COVID-19 Virus May Have Infected a Rocky Hill Resident at an IT Cybersecurity Conference
Bryan Greer, 37, of Rocky Hill attended an IT security conference in San Francisco to learn about the most powerful tools to prevent cyberattacks. He had to fly home a day early, on February 28, after the city became one of the first to declare a state of emergency due to coronavirus.
Unfortunately, the state-of-the-art sessions were for computers, and of course did not apply to the malicious COVID-19 virus, which infected at least two of the 36,000 people who attended the conference.
On March 10, the conference organizers posted an announcement on their website: "Dear Conference Attendee ... We recently learned two individuals tested positive for COVID-19, who attended RSA Conference. "If you have flu-like symptoms, reach out to your medical provider for advice on next steps."
Greer says he had been feeling run down, exhausted. He also has a fever that seems to come and go, headaches, body aches, and a bit of a cough, he told a Montgomery News reporter during a socially-distanced interview on his Rocky Hill driveway. His wife Amber also has symptoms, with a low-grade fever for two weeks and respiratory symptoms, he said.
Greer may have been exposed to two infected vendors at a booth at the conference. The vendor, Exabeam, is cautioning anyone who visited its booth to monitor themselves for symptoms.
At least one Exabeam employee is seriously ill — and has been in a medically-induced coma and on a ventilator in guarded condition. The employee, a 45-year-old engineer, is predisposed for pneumonia due to an underlying heart condition, according to his Go-Fund-Me page. He only began experiencing symptoms after he returned home to Connecticut from California on Feb. 28 , according to Bloomberg News.
This exemplifies how a non-symptomatic person can potentially infect other people. Greer, who lived in Montgomery for 10 years prior to moving to Rocky Hill, reached out to his family physician for guidance. The Greer family was put on self-quarantine, and told that tests were in short supply, and only available for the most severe cases.
Greer said his physician recommended going to InFocus Urgent Care on The College of New Jersey campus in Ewing, which had been doing some drive-up testing. He wanted the test because he is not able to visit his father, who has cancer and lives in East Brunswick. He also is concerned about passing the virus (if he has it) on to their three-year-old daughter, Sadie, who has not exhibited symptoms.
Greer was turned away from the InFocus Urgent Care on Campus Town Circle in Ewing this week. A woman there informed him that the building landlord secured a cease-and-desist letter demanding the urgent care center immediately stop testing patients for the coronavirus.
"Supposedly, there was too much commotion at the Ewing site," Greer said. However, he says it seemed orderly to him. "It’s infuriating what we go through to get tested, then the bureaucracy of this place just shuts them down."
The next day, the Greers tried the InFocus Urgent Care's office in Princeton Junction (West Windsor. "We arrived at 9:45 am and waited for three hours — and got the test."
"It wasn't a drive-thru," Greer said of his March 19 visit, "cause the landlord wouldn't let them. There were at least a half dozen cops there. The health workers were in full haz-mat gear. It was strange."
Greer should have result in three to four days, he said.
A phone call to the Princeton Junction office of InFocus Urgent Care was not returned at press time.
Testing May Not Help Much
While testing may give piece-of-mind to those who have symptoms, many health professionals now say it will not help much at this point.
Montgomery Health Officer Stephanie Carey says: "It is beyond the cases. It is now in our community. Everybody must do social distancing NOW."
"It is not helpful to identify people or individual cases anymore, because anyone could have it," she says. "People need to shelter in place. Take this very seriously."
There is no known treatment for novel coronavirus. For people who suspect they may have COVID-19, the most a person can do is isolate from their families. Stay in a separate room in the house and use a separate bathroom if possible. See CDC Guidelines for Families with Actual or Suspected Cases of COVID-19.
Call 911 if you have difficulty breathing, blue-colored lips or face, severe pain or pressure in the chest, severe constant dizziness, or light-headedness. If you go to the emergency department, call ahead to let them know you are coming.
For specific information for the Montgomery area, visit Health Montgomery NJ.
The coronavirus is likely to spike in the Montgomery area within five to eight weeks, Carey said. "That brings us to mid May."
"This is no time for playing basketball or climbing on playground equipment," Township Administrator Donato Nieman said in a telephone interview on March 20. "We had to rope off the playground and put signs up!"
People were letting their children play despite the fact that schools were closed — and likely will remain closed through the end of the school year. The Montgomery Health Department reported this at their March meeting.
Testing in Somerset County
Somerset County Public Health & Safety is exploring all options to develop a COVID-19 testing site, including securing test kits and the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff.
"We are working with Governor Murphy, the New Jersey Health Department and the State Police regarding the potential for setting up a drive-through testing site,” said Freeholder Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “However, the initial pilots are being done in Bergen and Monmouth; future sites will be determined based on access to materials.
We will continue our efforts, keep you apprised of where we stand, and do everything we can to ensure all possible resources are brought to Somerset County for our residents," said Freeholder Director Robinson.
For New Jersey coronavirus information, visit COVID19.nj.gov.
Remember: immune-compromised individuals and the elderly are at greatest risk, and 80 percent of those who contract the virus will experience mild to moderate symptoms according to the World Health Organization. Still, there is great anxiety and danger in not knowing whether one has the virus. Individuals are contagious to loved ones, friends, and members of the community regardless of whether their exhibit symptoms.