PORTLAND, Ore. — Joshua Lindley has been stuck, alone in his bedroom for days. He is under quarantine, while awaiting test results for coronavirus. Lindley’s wife delivers meals outside the bedroom, but he’s cautious not to open the door until after she’s left. They talk by cellphone or FaceTime.
“I think the hardest part has been being sick while being alone,” said Lindley, 39, of Salem.
Lindley’s experience provides a rare glimpse into the testing process in Oregon, and what life is like under quarantine waiting to find out if you’ve got the virus.
“It was great that I was able to get the test. I feel fortunate but I am sick and would like to know if I have it or not,” said Lindley.
On March 9, Lindley started showing symptoms. He didn’t feel good. He was light-headed and tired.
Lindley went to urgent care in Salem after developing a cough, sore throat and fever. He was sent home but didn’t get better. His fever spiked above 100 degrees.
A week later, doctors at Salem Clinic tested Lindley for influenza. When results came back negative for the flu, they asked him to take a different test for COVID-19.
“I was really shocked just because this is what we are hearing about on the news,” said Lindley. “All of a sudden, I’m going to be in the middle of it.”
The staff at Salem Clinic escorted Lindley out the back door. He waited in his car until he received a call from a nurse with instructions to drive to special area nearby marked with caution tape and temporary tents.
Health workers swabbed through Lindley’s nose to the back of his throat, causing him to gag. They sent him home, with instructions to quarantine, until results came back from the lab.
As Lindley drove, he called his wife at home. She quickly moved some clothes and other items out of their master bedroom and bathroom, so her husband could stay in isolation.
Lindley has been stuck in the bedroom ever since. He worries about other family members in the home, including his 68-year old father and sister. They’ve tried to stay away and wiped down every room and the car with sanitizer.
Lindley would love to be with his family but knows the risk. He cares for himself in isolation- treating his fever with cold, wet wash cloths.
“It’s hard to know my family is so close but because I might possibly have it, they can’t get involved,” said Lindley.
Oregon Governor Kate Brown indicated coronavirus testing will be ramping up in the next three weeks with support from the federal government, a private provider and test processing at Providence Health and Services regional lab.
For those who are sick or have loved ones who are sick, the results can’t come soon enough.
“It’s frustrating,” explained Claudia Christie of Hillsboro.
Christie has waited anxiously for six days to find out if her husband Gary has coronavirus. Doctors at Providence have told her the testing was outsourced and there’s no estimate on when results will be available.
Christie and other family members are under quarantine at home. They’re monitoring Gary’s condition and fear it might worsen. They don’t want to take him to the emergency room, not knowing if he has coronavirus.
The wait is even more difficult, Christie said, after hearing about celebrities and politicians who are tested with quick turnaround times.
“It seems like if you are famous you get the results pretty quickly,” said Christie. “It’s all very frustrating.”
The Oregon Health Authority explained slower than normal turnaround times are due to a backlog. Currently, most patients in Oregon wait three to four days for results, according to an OHA spokesperson.
Providence said its regional lab typically gets test results within 24 hours, but that could change with increased testing as the backlog grows.
Lindley said he has started to feel a little better but won’t come out of quarantine until he gets the test results.
He will just wait in his bedroom, sick and alone.