AUBURN — Stephanie Lauze got the phone call from Clover Health Care on Monday morning telling her she tested positive for COVID-19.

Stephanie Lauze looks down from her second-story porch in Auburn, where she takes a break with her cat, Newman. Lauze, who works at Clover Health Care in Auburn, has recently tested positive for COVID-19 and is on a 14-day quarantine. She remains asymptomatic. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“It was early, so I was still half asleep,” she said, “and my first response was, You’re kidding, right? And she’s like; ‘No, I wouldn’t kid about this.’”

The 33-year-old certified nursing assistant was in shock. “I had a little bit of a moment,” she said.

For most of her life, Lauze has had Crohn’s disease, a chronic inflammation of the digestive tract. In 2014, she had surgery to have part of her colon removed. She was in the hospital for a month, and was not expected to survive.

“I was in the ICU for 10 days with a breathing tube and everything else you can imagine,” she said. “It’s a long crazy story but I’m still here so that’s all that matters.”

She has been avoiding reading news of the coronavirus, which she finds unnerving, given her disease.

“When I hear about people not being able to breath and being intubated, it scares me,” she said.

Her positive COVID-19 test result came as a complete surprise.

“I hadn’t interacted with any of our original cases at Clover and I didn’t work on those units,” she said. “I had no contact with any of those people. (Clover Health Care) has been really good about keeping the same staff on the same unit.”

The staff has been consistent with the precautionary measures, according to Lauze.

“We come in every morning, they check our temperature, they ask the standard questions, ‘How are you feeling? Have you had a cough?’ We use our PPE.”

Even though Lauze is asymptomatic, she is staying vigilant for the sake of her health.

“There’s a time span where symptoms could start popping up,” she said.

She spent Tuesday on the phone trying to arrange for COVID-19 tests for her boyfriend and her 11-year-old daughter.

The standard procedure from the Center for Disease Control & Prevention has been to simply advise asymptomatic household members of COVID-19 positive cases and have them quarantine at home and watch for symptoms.

“I assume that we would all be positive because we’re in close proximity,” Lauze said.

She eventually managed to get her daughter tested, and she was negative. Her boyfriend was unable to get approval for a test because he has no symptoms.

The CDC is staying in touch with Lauze over the next 10 days to monitor her symptoms.

Clover Health Care is requiring a two-week quarantine and two negative tests, before allowing positive-testing employees to return to work.

The abrupt change of routine has been an adjustment for Lauze.

“I find that I have a hard time concentrating,” she said. “I would love to just read a book but my mind wanders somewhere else.”

She’s been cleaning her apartment and taking breaks on her second-story porch.

“My daughter keeps busy doing school through Zoom videos. That keeps her a little bit entertained,” Lauze said.

Lauze said she does not plan to leave her home for the next two weeks. She was fortunate to have a lot of food on hand when the call came with her test results, and she has family members and friends whom she is comfortable calling to help replenish groceries.

Lauze is also emotionally prepared for her quarantine.

“I’ve been through a lot with my Crohn’s, and that has given me a backbone,” she said, “and I’ve been working in health care at Clover eight years in June. “

Since the pandemic struck Maine, Lauze has been careful outside of work.

“I have a lowered immune system and I work in a nursing home. The elderly are really higher risk,” she said. As a result, she has limited going to stores, and when she did, she always wore a mask and gloves.

She is puzzled about where she might have contracted the virus.

“That’s what’s kind of scary,” Lauze said. “All those people are going into grocery stores or getting gas. They may have it and they just don’t know. They could be spreading it to people who are going to have symptoms.”

Lauze has advice for the public who have not been tested.

“Practice proper hygiene, if you are going to go out, wear a mask. Be considerate of other people,” she said.

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