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Her Mother Is In A Nursing Home Where There's A Coronavirus Outbreak

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

There are now more than 55,000 people in the U.S. who have been infected with the coronavirus. Those range from people who feel mild symptoms to those who are critically ill. And many of them have friends and family members who are worried about their safety and health right now, which brings me to Nicole DiNicola. Her mother lives at Shuksan Health Center in Bellingham, Wash. That's where more than two dozen residents and 11 staff members have been treated for COVID-19. Nicole DiNicola joins me now.

Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us.

NICOLE DINICOLA: Hello.

CHANG: I want to ask about your mother in just a moment, but I understand that you, yourself, have been feeling a little bit sick lately. Have you been diagnosed with COVID-19?

DINICOLA: No, I haven't been officially diagnosed yet. I was tested two days ago...

CHANG: OK.

DINICOLA: ...And because my symptoms are not very severe - I'm not in any distress, really - they didn't STAT the symptoms - they didn't STAT the test. They didn't put it in, you know, for fast results. So they said it could take up to five days for me to get my results.

CHANG: OK, so you're still waiting to hear.

DINICOLA: Yes.

CHANG: I understand that your mother tested negative, but the facility where she's living now is under quarantine because so many people there have tested positive. How is she holding up right now?

DINICOLA: She's doing pretty good under the circumstances. She's a very positive, optimistic person, so that's, you know, really doing well for her right now with...

CHANG: Yeah.

DINICOLA: ...That type of attitude.

CHANG: Yeah.

DINICOLA: But it's really hard for her because she is confined to the room. I spoke to her this morning. She had to have her bath in her room. She can't go out to have a shower. All of her meals are in her room. I mean, and she's been in there - she's been in her room now for - I think it's been eight or nine days she hasn't been out of those...

CHANG: Wow.

DINICOLA: Yeah.

CHANG: She hasn't even been able to go on short walks outside by herself?

DINICOLA: No, not at all because...

CHANG: Oh.

DINICOLA: ...The whole hall that she's in is infected. And then also, the other hall is infected, so her chance of contracting the virus by going out of the room is so high that just to keep the chances down, they're keeping her in the room.

CHANG: My goodness. So how is she keeping occupied? Is she glued to the TV...

DINICOLA: Yeah, she is.

CHANG: ...And the Internet?

DINICOLA: She has TV. Yeah, she has Internet. You know, she keeps herself busy with that. She has her phone. She talks to people. But it's, you know, as you can imagine, extremely isolating.

CHANG: Well, what has it been like for you not to be able to just go and see her?

DINICOLA: Really hard; it makes me feel helpless because my mom has been in a hospital or nursing care situation for a long time now. And I'm so used to going to visit her, you know, many times a week. And in this situation, we were told early on - it's been over two weeks now that we can't visit. And this has been the longest, you know, I've been...

CHANG: Yeah.

DINICOLA: ...Haven't been able to see my mom. And just in such a dire situation, you just feel helpless because you can't do anything for your loved one.

CHANG: How are you guys staying in touch? Are you using FaceTime? Are you...

DINICOLA: Yes.

CHANG: ...On the phone a lot? OK.

DINICOLA: Yeah, we talk on FaceTime twice a day. I have a 7-year-old, 4-year-old and a 1-year-old. So she gets to see them, and that...

CHANG: That's good.

DINICOLA: ...You know, lifts her spirits. Yeah.

CHANG: Now, I understand that your husband has tested positive for the coronavirus.

DINICOLA: No, he actually hasn't tested positive.

CHANG: Oh, I'm so sorry.

DINICOLA: He is just the sickest out of our family. The kids...

CHANG: Has he been tested at all?

DINICOLA: ...Got it first.

CHANG: OK.

DINICOLA: No. So the tests - there's such a shortage of the tests. Because my mom lives at Shuksan, my naturopath said that he would test me because I had the greatest chance of contracting it.

CHANG: I see.

DINICOLA: And if mine did come back positive, then he's just to assume that that's what he had.

CHANG: Oh.

DINICOLA: That - we have a great shortage of tests up here.

CHANG: Right.

DINICOLA: So many people are going to get tested, and they're turning them away. They're saying that their tests are for first responders and people who are very ill.

CHANG: So while you're waiting to know if you have COVID-19 or not, are you trying to socially distance yourself from your three small children?

DINICOLA: No, I'm not because they showed the symptoms first. Even though their symptoms were mild...

CHANG: OK.

DINICOLA: ...They were sick first. And then we started to show those symptoms, so I'm not. I'm not doing that.

CHANG: Well, I wish you all the best of luck - to you, your mother, your husband, your three children.

DINICOLA: Thank you.

CHANG: We will all get through this. That is Nicole DiNicola. Her mother is in a nursing home in Washington state, where several residents have tested positive for COVID-19.

Thank you very much for joining us.

DINICOLA: Thank you very much.

(SOUNDBITE OF THE ALBUM LEAF'S "SHINE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.