Covid-19 a Risk in Multi-generational Homes

By Aisatou Fisiru

Geneva Sissoho, a health care worker, showed no symptoms of Covid-19 and now fears she unwittingly spread it to some of her family members. Sissoho took a Covid-19 test along with her sister just to be on the safe side. When the results came in, they both tested positive. “I got Covid from my sister and unfortunately two of my younger sisters tested positive due to interacting with me,” said Sissoho.

Sissoho, 22, works for the New York City Health Department. Many health care workers experienced intense stress on the job due to the pandemic and also serious anxiety about the possibility that they might spread the virus to family members. Some choose to live away from home, others adopt coping strategies such as being highly cautious. Sissoho lives in the Bronx and shares an apartment with her siblings and elderly parents. She had to self-quarantine for days after her diagnosis to make sure that no one else got the virus. Unfortunately, it was too late because several members of her family contracted the virus.

“When the vast majority of my household tested positive, we feared for the well being of my father and my mother since they have underlying health issues,” said Sissoho. “My father ended up testing positive but we made sure to monitor his symptoms to make sure he didn’t need emergency medical care.” Covid-19 is very dangerous for all adults, but most threatening to the lives of the elderly.

New York City offers isolation options for people who are experiencing symptoms or who have been diagnosed to self-quarantine. Sissoho chose to stay home and quarantine in her apartment. “When I contracted Covid, I was offered the option to isolate at an isolation hospital in Queens if there wasn’t enough space in my home to isolate by myself,” she said. “I ended up isolating in my room with my sister and one bathroom was sectioned off for us.”

There was no contact between Sissoho and her family members except her mom, who took care of them and took all safety precautions to ensure her safety. “She made sure to sanitize everything; she took all necessary precautions and she did not test positive at all,” she said.

Sissoho explains that she felt different kinds of pain while ill. “Some of my Covid-19 symptoms included a really bad migraine and sinus pain,” she said. “I felt like I had water stuck up my nose that was traveling up my brain down to my spine,” she said. The virus can take a toll on one’s health, some worse than others based on their immune systems. After Sissoho tested negative for Covid-19, she felt better, but still had some extreme pain. She had symptoms for 17 days. “I was really tired,” she said. “I slept for long periods of the day and I had a lot of anxiety. My mom had to reassure me that I’ll get better.”

Sissoho finally got better and is feeling a lot better. She emphasizes the importance of getting tested for Covid-19. “It is crucial to get tested for Covid-19, especially if you are not feeling well,” she said. “I didn’t even know I was sick until I tested positive. It all started with my sister having to take a Covid-19 test for her new job and I ended up going with her to take a test just because I didn’t feel well and then I ended up testing positive.”

Sissoho was not feeling sick before she took the test, but she was able to take action before matters got worse. She is also now careful to take safety precautions. “To ensure that I do not test positive again and not to put others at risk, I wear my mask at all times and change it frequently,” she says. “I have Lysol spray that I spray periodically and carry sanitizer. It is important to make sure the areas we are in are well sanitized so that others do not contract the virus. People at my job had to quarantine for 14 days after I tested positive but nobody contracted the disease at my job station.”

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