Jamie Herrera and her son Charlie are confined to bed because of the coronavirus, officially called St. Louis Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). Ms. Herrera’s daughter, Lisa Arano, had been quarantined in New York City for 18 months after being diagnosed with the virus. Now it’s her turn.
She got sick last December, and died in January, from what the New York City Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention considered a probable link to the SARS virus. Although only two of New York’s 22 confirmed cases of the virus have been linked to the World Health Organization classification of 8, no probable cases of SARS have been reported in other parts of the country since the second local case was detected in 2001.
The archipelago hospital Ms. Herrera worked at has closed, and she lives with her mother in Nassau County, N.Y. Mr. Arano has moved to Florida to be closer to her father and his family. Ms. Herrera is now living with her sister and two children.
Ms. Herrera said she was forced to bed rest for two weeks, and was treated in a home lab — which requires strict temperature and humidity management — for the rest of the time. She and her husband, Benjamin, were unable to go on outings. Then her health got even worse.
“After I got my first infection and recovered, they just wouldn’t let me out,” she said. “But I had to continue my employment to be able to pay my rent.”
She said it has been almost a year since the cases in New York City have been confirmed, and the city’s response to them has fallen on deaf ears.
Ms. Herrera, a housewife in Westbury, a New York suburb, said she wasn’t aware of her daughter’s illness when she and her family were forced to leave the island in September 2007. Her daughter kept asking her when she would be able to return home to Pennsylvania, where the disease had been dubbed “by some the worst case of SARS” and others call it a lesser virus.
“I was so dumbfounded about what happened to my daughter and the whole thing with the virus in New York City,” Ms. Herrera said. “I’m going through a really trying time.”
Herrera’s brother, Jerry Colak, said he has been meeting frequently with the CDC, and knows of at least a dozen Long Island families who are affected by the virus.