There have been many unfortunate moments in America’s quarantine history, from the forced confinement of Typhoid Mary to the barbed wire strung around parts of San Francisco’s Chinatown in the midst of an outbreak of bubonic plague. But quarantine in the time of coronavirus will likely have no barbed wire moments. Still, even the possibility of forced quarantines have provoked fear among many.

Recently a friend of mine and his wife were forced to quarantine in Shanghai. It was late February and they were returning from Europe back to their home in Shanghai. The city they were traveling from had yet to report a single confirmed case of Covid-19 — though they would do so just a day later — but upon their return, they agreed to two weeks of voluntary isolation in their homes. This experience was much like what many of us are doing here in New York — they went for walks and bought their groceries, but they stayed home most of the time. They were required to take their temperature twice a day and upload the results to an app so authorities could monitor their health from afar. Roughly 90% of people infected with Covid-19 experience a fever as one of the symptoms.

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Originally published in Psychology Today (March 23, 2020)