The Harding University Florence (HUF) group returned Feb. 29, and students entered voluntary quarantine. Following instructions from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH) directed the students to avoid public spaces, remain at home and try to minimize interactions with family members until March 14, until the incubation period of COVID-19 passed.
Sophomore HUF student, Everett Kirkman, said her two grandmothers in Searcy are in the higher risk group for COVID-19 infection, which played a role in her voluntary quarantine.
“I do want to see them, and I know they want to see me, but I want to be responsible,” Kirkman said. “And if I am a carrier of it [COVID-19], which I could be even if I’m not showing symptoms, I don’t want to be the one that gets one of them sick.”
“I do want to see them, and I know they want to see me, but I want to be responsible.”
HUF students returned home to 10 states: Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana and South Carolina. The state health departments of New York, Oklahoma, Colorado, South Carolina and Arkansas requested travelers returning from Italy to enter voluntarily quarantine in their own homes, while the rest of the states advised returning travelers to follow CDC recommendations.
According to the National Conference of State Legislations, both the federal and state governments have the right to legally enforce quarantine and isolation related to contagious diseases. The ADH is currently monitoring 64 travelers with daily check-ins and investigating two possible cases of COVID-19. While quarantine in Arkansas is voluntary for returning travelers who may not be infected, the state government does retain the right to involve law enforcement if infected people refuse medical advice. Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson addressed the concern surrounding COVID-19 in a press conference Feb. 28.
“We go about our business, we spend our money, we drive the economy and we conduct business because there’s no confirmed cases in Arkansas,” Hutchinson said. “And it’s important that we go about our daily lives without fear.”
Health advisers across the U.S. advised citizens to avoid panicking as COVID-19 continues to spread. Associate professor of nursing Karen Kelley, said people in the Searcy community should not worry, but practice basic health precautions and wash their hands regularly. The best place to find information and prevention procedures regarding the virus is on the CDC website, Kelley said.
“My opinion is you should probably be prepared”
“My opinion is you should probably be prepared,” Kelley said. “The CDC, they’re recommending — and I think it’s probably a good recommendation — to be prepared to stay home for two weeks. In other words, have food for two weeks and have supplies that you need.”