A family in quarantine waits for coronavirus test results

Friday marks day 14 of quarantine for a Roswell family of seven, and a step closer to better health for Ellie Jordan.

Ellie and the medical staff at Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital emergency room believe she has the coronavirus. She was tested there nearly two weeks ago and sent home to await results. The Jordan family is still waiting for the results that were due back by March 18.

With no clear diagnosis, the whole family and their acquaintances have been caught up in the uncertainty.

“If it were just us, we’d think, ‘OK that’s stupid, but no big deal,’” said Ellie, who is improving. “The fact that other people who are potentially impacted by my results are waiting; they don’t know if they are supposed to be quarantined themselves.”

During the wait, the young family has struggled to isolate Ellie from her five children, eventually caving in to the difficulties of keeping everyone separate. Now, they are on the lookout for any symptoms in the rest of the family.

The family has agreed to talk to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about their experience juggling illness, children and work while quarantined, in addition to managing their fears. Ellie also said she wants others to hear her warning to not underestimate the seriousness of COVID-19 as she did before her own illness.

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On Friday, March 13, Ellie suddenly became sick with extreme nausea and diarrhea, as well as cold symptoms. The next day, chest pains followed. In 2016, Ellie had emergency heart surgery to repair a ruptured aorta, so her symptoms were serious enough that her doctor told her to go to the hospital.

“This pain [two weeks ago] didn’t feel similar to regular chest pain,” said Ellie. “My chest started getting tight. I was having painful deep breaths and a dry cough. I think both (my husband) and I were extremely nervous.”

Her husband John David Jordan, known as "JD," rushed her to the emergency room on the advice of her primary care physician. Saint Joseph's medical staff ruled out the flu and pneumonia by taking a deep swab sample from Ellie's nose and giving her a chest X-ray.

“They said the negative results were an indication that it’s something else, likely the coronavirus,” said JD.

Ellie, 41, was given a test for the coronavirus. The couple said they were told to quarantine the family for 14 days, and that Ellie would receive a call from the ER on the following Wednesday to let her know what the results were. Despite daily calls, she still hasn’t received results.

“Every time they said, ‘Your name is on a long list,’” she explained. “Yesterday they said, ‘It’s been sent out to a lab and the lab will call you.’”

“I’ve tried emailing the hospital and calling my primary care doctor but I haven’t heard back yet. I would be shocked if it wasn’t positive for coronavirus,” she added.

The worst of Ellie’s illness came two days after leaving the emergency room when she was having such difficulty breathing that her husband considered calling 911 so she could be administered oxygen. He bought a pulse oximeter at a local store to check Ellie’s blood oxygen level and found it was still in the normal range. He checked on her all night, worried that she wasn’t breathing.

Ellie said on Wednesday she is still weak but improving and able to walk around the house. The fulltime student at the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics was set to graduate this spring. She and her husband have five children ages nine to 14. With such a large family, isolating from Ellie wasn’t going to work.

“At the beginning we tried not to touch Ellie and our faces,” said JD, 43, adding that the children are active all over the house. “There’s seven of us and we have pets as well – two dogs, a cat, rabbits, a lizard and fish.”

JD, an executive design director at MaxMedia, has continued to work remotely while taking care of Ellie and the kids. The family has not sought additional coronavirus tests for the other family members.

While staying home and away from others, the couple has worried about the rest of the family becoming ill. Two children had slight dry coughs that went away, said Ellie. Earlier this week, JD noticed cold symptoms of his own and became fatigued and hoarse. Those symptoms passed in 48 hours, he said.

“Ellie and I still share a bed and hang out together,” said JD. “If she’s got it, I’ve got it. That’s been my thought.”

The couple said they worry about JD’s coworkers and Ellie’s classmates who might’ve been exposed. “My company moved very quickly when I told them about Ellie. We’ve all been working remotely,” said JD.

Without revealing her identity, the Atlanta Institute of Aesthetics informed students that Ellie was tested for COVID-19, she said. “I would be devastated to know that I was responsible for making someone sick,” said Ellie.

“I get that a lot of people don’t know someone who is going through [coronavirus]. …I’ve encouraged many people to pay attention to their own symptoms, because mine weren’t as cut and dry as I would have expected given what we’ve heard in the news.”