Coronavirus Home Quarantine Stories: Caren Chen & Her Mom, Day 6


This post is part of a spontaneous interview series I’m throwing together this week. The goal is to share personal accounts from people doing compulsory home quarantine in Taiwan during the coronavirus pandemic.

Hi Caren! So you’re keeping your mom company while she does home quarantine. Are you worried at all about possibly getting infected? No, not really. We have been pretty careful but of course it’s probably impossible to be 100% about it since she isn’t in self-isolation. I try not to worry about it! We’re trying our best. My husband is super paranoid though. He brings our dog up to visit almost daily, but he stands at the end of the hallway with the dog. And I’m not allowed to touch the dog.

Where did your mom come back from and how was her trip? My mom, Lucy, came back from LA on March 21. She basically went through battle on the plane, completely suited up. And the lady next to her was even more suited up! Like multiple layers of masks. Gloves getting switched multiple times on the plane. That lady didn’t go to the bathroom once or eat anything. My mom went to the bathroom once but didn’t eat anything. Then when she got home she went straight to the bathroom to shower and put all her clothes in a bag to be washed. Her suitcases were disinfected at the airport.

What made her decide to come back to Taiwan? She said she would feel safer in Taiwan than in LA. She’s hoping to just be here for around two months, but can stay longer if the US situation is still bananas. She’s 71 and lives by herself in LA. I didn’t feel great about leaving her alone and quarantined for an indefinite amount of time.

How has it been going for you, since you don’t even need to be in quarantine? Overall quarantine has been tough! Some good days and some bad days. I don’t know if I can last 14 days, to be honest. It might be a psychological thing too because technically I don’t even need to be quarantined.

A fridge stocked for quarantine.

Have you gone out at all? I did, yesterday. To grab my mom some snacks from Family Mart (an ice cream emergency) then I came straight back home. I was out for like five minutes probably.

Are you guys staying separate? She has a separate bedroom and bathroom. We don’t eat at the same time or place.

How has your mom been doing? She’s been taking it like a champ so far. It’s probably not that different from her daily life in LA, just no more line dancing classes or seeing family for Saturday dinners. But she stays really connected with her friends and family by talking on the phone all day. Literally, all day.

What does your mum think about you doing quarantine with her? I haven’t asked her! She probably thinks it’s a little unnecessary but also it’s thoughtful of me so that she’s not alone and going through it alone. (Pause.) So I asked my mom about what she thinks about my quarantining with her. She said I’m like a police officer. Super tough and strict, haha. I’ll overhear my mom telling her friends on the phone stuff like, “Caren says I have to wear a mask if I’m cooking, so now I’m wearing mask a lot of the times.” And kind of grumbling about it.

What else is your mum getting up to? She’s really just been cooking, cleaning, watching dramas and talking to people on the phone.

How have the quarantine check ups been? Saturday was our Day 1 and he visited on Tuesday. He seemed overwhelmed when he visited and really busy. He dropped off 14 masks for my mom. They were going to give my mom a phone but he said they ran out of phones. We told him there was no need as we had gotten a SIM card. My mom has to text him every day about her status. It doesn’t seem like the monitoring system is very strict in my mom’s case. It hasn’t been daily check-ins since she got here.

No care package? We were happy with the masks!

What are you doing in all your free time? Just taking it one day at a time. I try to do a home workout every day. And I try to do some work for at least a couple hours. Also trying to stay off social media but that’s been really hard. I do talk to friends and check up on friends in other countries. I still do SoGal stuff and talk to the team.

Thanks Caren!

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