What self-quarantine looks like in Rhode Island

Coronavirus

CRANSTON, R.I. (WPRI) ─ The number of Rhode Islanders told to self-quarantine skyrocketed after a single case of COVID-19 struck a Cranston student.

According to the Rhode Island Department of Health, there are now 2,300 people across the state instructed to follow a set of rules aimed at keeping them out of the general population, and halting the spread of the disease.

Nearly 1,700 of the confined are students, faculty and staff from Cranston West High School.

Here’s a view at what it’s like to be self-quarantined through the eyes of retired boxer Gary Balletto, whose 14-year-old son is a freshman at the school, and has been instructed to stay home.

Fear, relief and caution

Balletto admitted it was frightening at first to hear his son was potentially exposed to the virus.

“He knows of the other student, but did not come into contact with [them],” Balletto said. “It could be worse. He could actually be sick right now.”

According to instructions from the Cranston School Department, anyone in self-quarantine needs to monitor themselves for the virus symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath and sore throat.

14 long days

The recommended self-quarantine time is two weeks, but on day three Balletto’s son was already saying “it’s the worst thing ever.”

“He said I can’t stay in the house anymore,” Balletto said.

Instructions include no work, school, use of public transportation and not only staying in the home, but also remaining confined to a room away from everyone else.

“It’s been hard for him so far,” Balletto said. “And we’re hearing about it.”

Other family members can leave

Family members are allowed to leave “at their discretion,” according to school department recommendations.

That can cause daycare issues for some if the quarantined individual is too young to stay home alone.

Balletto said he has help watching his son, allowing him to leave and maintain his real estate business.

But no visitors

Isolation has been especially difficult for the parents of teenagers, but Balletto said he is following that rule to the letter.

Denying his son’s request to have friends over during the break from school is a no-brainer, according to Balletto.

He said his main concern is his mother who has an existing medical condition that could make her especially vulnerable to COVID-19.

“I worry about my mom,” Balletto said. “My mom actually has lung problems. I actually put her in a hotel room this week.”

Rules change with symptoms

The rules changes if anyone in self-quarantine develops symptoms and tests positive for the virus, potentially putting the entire home in quarantine.

“We hope that doesn’t happen,” Balletto said. “Thank God he seems perfectly fine.”

What are students doing?

Balletto does allow his son to go outside and play basketball and in a world of multi-player video games, he can still hang out “virtually” with classmates.

“He plays video games with his older brother,” Balletto said.

But Cranston Mayor Allan Fung scolded Cranston’s youth for not following the self-quarantine rules.

“Go home, and stay home,” Fung said on Saturday. “You even have my permission to sleep in.”

In the video below, Eyewitness News reporter Shiina LoSciuto shares her experience being self-quarantined after returning from a cruise to the Caribbean.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau.

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