As I’ve recently returned from vacation, like many others, I’ve been tested for Corona Virus. Fortunately, I was able to do so relatively quickly, after a four hour wait this morning. In the meantime, I’ll be isolated at home for the foreseeable future. My work has mandated a minimum 14 day work from home policy for anyone who has recently travelled. I would have likely spent this week working from home anyway, just to be on the safe side.
The term “quarantine” has an interesting history. It began as a preventative measure in 14th century Venice to ward off the black plague. Quarantine is actually derived from the Italian quaranta giorni, meaning forty days. Back then, ships were required to anchor outside port, and wait for forty days. Whether by coincidence or divine providence, it is estimated that it takes 37 days from contraction to death , making the quarantine an extremely effective tool at identifying infected crews.
It wasn’t until 1944 that the legislature granted U.S. federal government the authority to quarantine. The same act was targeted at containing tuberculosis and venereal disease by providing funding to scientists and health professionals. It also granted the government the authority to restrict travel to and from certain countries.
It remains to be seen whether the U.S. population will effectively “self-quarantine” to the degree which will slow the spread of the Corona Virus. Misinformation concerning incubation periods, infection rates, and latency have spread through social media even faster than the virus. For now, the CDC is a solid source of information, as well as cable news which has seemed to set aside their partisan vitriol somewhat in favor of useful information.
I’ll know more tomorrow whether I’ve just got the post-vacation crud, or a real case of the virus. Stay tuned!