‘I won’t let him go outside’: Bristol, Va. mom concerned after apartment complex learns of COVID-19 case

Local Coronavirus Coverage

BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Residents at one Bristol, Virginia apartment complex face the fear and uncertainty of a unique situation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Woodlands at Bristol apartment complex found a note stuck to the walls outside their front doors Monday that said someone among them has tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

“We saw a note on the breezeway and it said that somebody in our area, in Woodlands, had the virus and the landlord said that she wasn’t going to say who or where,” Melissa Nelson, a resident, told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais. “It was scary because I have a 2-year-old and I’m expecting, I’m pregnant so, I mean it scares me because I wonder if it’s going to spread even more.”

Nelson is a stay-at-home mom of a rambunctious young son who is now literally under lock and key after she found out about the case.

“Now that I know, I won’t let him go outside,” she said. “Not unless I’m out there, which I’m always with him, but now that I know that someone at the apartment complex has it, I’m going to try to keep him in as much as I can.”

She added she fears for the safety of the other tenants.

“When I found out it’s close to me, I started freaking out, panicking, I mean, there’s so many little kids where I live and so many elderly that, you know, it’s pretty scary because, you know, what if they get it,” Nelson said.

Breanne Forbes Hubbard with the Mount Rogers Health District said that HIPAA privacy laws prohibit the exposed individual’s personal information from being released, but people who do test positive have the right to tell people.

“That’s changing over time as we’re continuing to get into the situation more but typically we’ve just got to be HIPAA compliant and not release things, now of course, if an individual or a business wants to release that they are sick or that they have cases, that’s completely up to their discretion, but we’re bound by HIPAA as the Department of Health,” Forbes Hubbard told News Channel 11’s Bianca Marais. “If somebody is a contact to a known case, you’re going to receive a call from somebody at the Virginia Department of Health letting you know that you’ve been in contact with somebody and what steps you need to take.” 

Her advice to tenants of The Woodlands apartments and others who might have come in contact with or been exposed to someone with COVID-19:

“If you’ve been a close contact to a COVID-19 case, we want you to quarantine for two weeks, we want you to keep an eye out for the symptoms of COVID-19, we definitely want you to seek medical treatment if you develop symptoms that are not able to be managed at home or symptoms that are worsening,” she said.

On the bright side, Roberts said that she has faith in the maintenance crews working to keep the frequently-touched surfaces in the complex sanitized.

“Well, our maintenance crew that is at Woodlands, they’re really good and they’re really on top of everything so I’m pretty sure that now that they have the virus there, they’re going to do everything in their power to make sure that everything is clean.”

Continuing coverage of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

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