Seminole County COVID-19 patient cleared after 17 days in self-quarantine

Department of Health team called UCF student on April 2, confirmed her status via email, records show

Seminole County COVID-19 patient said she never received check-in phone calls
Seminole County COVID-19 patient said she never received check-in phone calls

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – Seminole County leaders issued an executive order on Friday for residents with COVID-19 to stay home until they are medically cleared or possibly face a fine.

However, Gabriella Bivona, 22, said she did not receive the daily follow-up calls she’s heard health officials promising. She tested positive for COVID-19 on March 23, a week after she and her boyfriend returned home from a trip to London.

“Obviously, started off with a fever and some congestion. Mostly I was dealing with the fatigue and body aches,” Bivona said.

[READ: Seminole County releases heat map of coronavirus cases | Coronavirus: Here’s how many hospital beds are available in Florida]

Bivona said she self-quarantined for weeks and luckily, recovered from what she called a mild case of the virus. She said she didn’t learn she was medically cleared for 17 days after he self-quarantine begin.

A spokesperson for the Seminole County government said the Intelligence Unit and Florida Department of Health-Seminole Epidemiology team both make contact with confirmed coronavirus patients and persons under investigation to ensure protocol is followed.

According to the call notes from those teams, a follow up call was made to Bivona on April 2 and they left a voicemail after she did not answer. The logs also show Bivona sent an email to the Florida Department of Health-Seminole Epidemiology team on April 4 requesting an update on her status. She received a response the same day, confirming her status was changed to “completed” meaning she was cleared to leave self-isolation.

“Initially, I was told that I would be receiving daily phone calls from the Department of Health. I never received any phone calls from anybody. I was 17 days past when my quarantine started and my symptoms were gone, but I didn’t have that official sign off,” she said.

The University of Central Florida graduate student said she called hotlines for Seminole County and the local health department, along with sending emails. She contacted News 6 for help and got a response from the Florida Department of Health on Friday night that she was medically cleared.

“It’s unfortunate that those check ins aren’t happening the way that they’re saying they are but, obviously, I understand given the current circumstances, things are falling through the cracks. Everyone’s spread thin. I understand that. It was just a little upsetting to see them even saying on the press conferences, ‘Hey we’re calling people every single day’ and I didn’t receive a single call,” she said.

[RELATED: Interactive map shows Florida cities with coronavirus cases | Seminole County leaders say social distancing order in effect along with statewide stay-at-home mandate]

Bivona said it’s important for patients to be proactive and call health officials or doctors about their status and what they need to do to be medically cleared.

She also believes government officials should have a verification system in place to make sure every patient is being regularly contacted.

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About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.