COVID19: can/should I go home again?
April 4, 2020 5:55 AM   Subscribe

I left NYC at the end of February to help out with a family emergency. I subsequently got COVID and recovered. Should I go back to NYC?

I know we are not supposed to travel. But I'm worried about my cats, and I feel like I could be helpful volunteering to go to the store, etc. for the elderly in my building. I worry that my catsitter, who has been visiting daily and staying 1-2 nights in my apartment a week, will get sick and my cats will be left alone. The cats can't go with her because she has pets of her own and her landlord wouldn't allow more. I'm also feeling very anxious where I am, and I think being home/away from the place I was sick will help. I don't get along with my parents (we had been estranged for a few years before this emergency brought me back in contact), and I keep feeling that the other shoe is going to drop any day. Can I go home?
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
How close are you? Can you drive there directly within a day? Or will it be a multi-day drive or flight? If the former I think you're OK to return home as long as you isolate properly on your return, because in my opinion you have an essential reason to do so - your cats. You will reduce the risk to your cat sitter too once she no longer has to travel frequently and go in and out of your building.

If its a long trip that will involve exposure to other people, things get iffier.
posted by stillnocturnal at 6:44 AM on April 4, 2020 [5 favorites]

If you are planning to drive and can't do it within a day, note that some states have closed their hotels. (The only one I know of is Vermont, but there may be others.)
posted by madcaptenor at 6:52 AM on April 4, 2020

Just to be clear, is it definite that you've had COVID-19 or is there a possibility that it was just normal cold/flu?
posted by trig at 7:02 AM on April 4, 2020 [9 favorites]

> Yes, if you tested positive for COVID, you can’t get it again, and you can’t give it to anyone else.

This is not correct.

Scientists have not yet determined the degree of immunity you get from future cases of Covid-19. There is likely to be some level of immunity, but the degree is unknown. You should research this. Look for information from reliable medical / public health institutions or practitioners.

It is also not clear what you mean by "recovered". Your symptoms may diminish while you are still infected and can transmit the disease. I believe current recommendation is for 2 weeks of quarantine after your symptoms end but you should verify this with a reliable source.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 7:34 AM on April 4, 2020 [30 favorites]

I would say yes, just make sure to 100% self-quarantine for 14 maybe even 21 days when you arrive. This means you won't be able to help with grocery shopping for a while and I am uncertain of the state of grocery/food delivery in NYC currently but you may find it difficult to get food.

As others had mentioned, stock up before you leave on food and extra gas and drive there without interacting with other people if you can.
posted by Young Kullervo at 8:08 AM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would say you have multiple legitimate reasons to go home. If you think you might have a fallout with your parents, it would be much better to leave prepared (with plans in place to quickly and unobtrusively acquire the necessities of life) than it would be to leave suddenly. Most public health experts seem to think surviving through COVID leaves people with some immunity, but there are too many unknowns to allow yourself to think you'll be invulnerable (e.g. duration of immunity, possibility of a false positive test, etc.). Like others have asked, do you have a long journey home? One major concern with traveling (from a public health standpoint) is that we don't want to kick off new infectious clusters in places with few cases. With the way exponential growth works, it's much worse to add a few more infections to a place that's relatively unscathed than it is to add a few cases to a place with tens of thousands of infections. Meaning, if you act reasonably once you get to NYC, you probably won't add much to the chaos, but you don't want to be the person who kicks off an infectious chain in a small New England town.
posted by ayerarcturus at 8:32 AM on April 4, 2020 [3 favorites]

Mod note: One comment deleted; please only make claims about the science of immunity to this virus if you can link to evidence. As far as I know, a lot of the questions about immunity are still uncertain right now.
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 8:51 AM on April 4, 2020 [11 favorites]

I am home in NYC and there is no place I would rather be. If you can get here safely and quarantine yourself upon arrival, it sounds like it would be a great comfort to you and I am sure your cats will be happy to see you.

Food and package delivery is fine so far and everyone is prepared to do no-contact delivery. There are also a host of readymade meal services, produce box deliveries, etc. you might want to pre-arrange some food deliveries for as soon as you get back. Fresh Direct delivery slots and instacart delivery slots have been a little hard to get, but seamless, postmates, ubereats, etc are all working fine, and you can order a lot of prepared food and eat it over the course of several days. Farmers collective delivery - full meals delivered weakly prepared by refugee restauranteurs. I am most jealous of my friend who abandoned cooking efforts to eat with this service
MissfitsMarket imperfect produce box

Some local laundromats are closed but delivery services are operating.

Lastly, here's a helpful google doc from NYCUnitedAgainstCoronavirus.
posted by wowenthusiast at 11:01 AM on April 4, 2020 [8 favorites]

If I were in your situation I would do it as long as I could do it without endangering others. So if you can drive home in your own car without needing a hotel room, and quarentine for two weeks after you arrive, I'd say go for it! Good luck! I wish you a safe trip and a happy homecoming with your kitties.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 4:29 PM on April 4, 2020

How long ago did you get diagnosed and when did your symptoms go away? Add two weeks to that, three if you want to be extra diligent, and you should be good to travel while taking ALL the necessary precautions. Just because you’re not shedding the virus doesn’t mean you still can’t get it on your hands in a rest stop and then move it all the way to the cashier when you pay for your coffee.

As far as immunity goes, Italy is debating issuing cards that would prove the positive antibody status of the card holder to potentially ease restrictions for the immune, under the assumption that that immunity lasts at least as long as other coronaviruses. There’s no guarantee of anything at all at this point, but that should become clearer with time.

Don’t go gallivanting around NYC, respect all guidelines, and you should be fine.
posted by lydhre at 8:11 PM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

If you actually did have Covid, the best place for you is NYC where you can donate serum to help critical patients. If you have a positive test result, once it’s safe for you to move without infecting others, Go.
posted by Geckwoistmeinauto at 7:07 AM on April 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

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