Linda Jensen didn’t know what to think when Tuolumne County public health officials called her shortly before noon on Thursday and told her she was free to come out of isolation despite testing positive for COVID-19 less than a week earlier.
Jensen, 56, said it was especially confusing because her roommate who she shares a home with in East Sonora, who did not want to be named, was told that he has to remain in quarantine until June 5 despite testing negative.
“Talk about not knowing what the other hand is doing,” she said. “Oh my gosh, nobody knows anything about this disease or whatever it’s called.”
The county Public Health Department announced in a daily update Thursday afternoon that the woman who tested positive May 22 had cleared her isolation period and did not present a risk to the community, though it didn’t identify her by name.
Michelle Jachetta, spokeswoman for the department, clarified that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s recommended isolation period for someone who tests positive is three days without fever and 10 days since the onset of symptoms.
Jensen says she’s never had a fever or experienced any other symptoms of the potentially deadly virus.
Jachetta said the CDC’s recommendation for asymptomatic contacts is 14 days since the last exposure.
Despite getting the free and clear, Jensen said she plans to remain housebound with her roommate until June 5 because she doesn’t want to run the risk of potentially infecting someone else if she happens to still be a carrier for the virus.
“I’d feel better for the public, I’d feel better for me, if I just stayed in another week,” she said. “It won’t kill me and will make me feel better.”
Jensen said the woman from the Public Health Department told her she was “just following protocol” three times when Jensen pressed her with questions.
The department declined to comment directly on the case and said it would continue to not share personal medical information about cases.
Earlier this week, Jensen spoke to The Union Democrat about her experience after testing positive and talked about the fear it caused her and frustration over what she felt was a lack of support from the county while she was isolating for days in her small bedroom.
Jensen tested positive at Adventist Health Sonora a few days after being treated for a kidney infection following a surgery late last month in the Bay Area. She said she was given the test because they planned to admit her, but instead sent her home.
“That’s what started everything, so why they felt obligated to test is another question,” she said. “They said something about they’re going to admit me, tested me, and then didn’t admit me.”
Jensen was the third county resident to test positive for the virus since testing began in March, all of whom have now since recovered. Two other non-residents also tested positive while in the county, but their cases were later assigned to their home counties.
A fourth official case in the county was identified Monday when an inmate tested positive at Sierra Conservation Center near Jamestown, which remained under investigation as of Friday morning.
The county Public Health Department conducted a contact tracing investigation in Jensen’s case but has declined to disclose the number of people who were contacted. She doesn’t know how she could have caught the virus, nor has the department publicly identified an origin.
At least one of the people who came into contact with Jensen was being housed at Old Oak Ranch in Columbia as part of a Project Roomkey, a federally funded program to provide places for people who are homeless and at risk of the virus or have no other place to safely quarantine.
Anthony Snell, 31, who came into contact with Jensen about two or three weeks ago at his ex-girlfriend’s family home in Sonora, went to the ranch on Saturday and left about noon on Thursday after being told he no longer had to quarantine.
Snell said he wasn’t tested and isn’t sick.
Contact Alex MacLean at email@example.com or (209) 768-5175.