A Kent State University architecture student who was evacuated from her study-abroad program in Italy is emerging from a two-week voluntary quarantine amid coronavirus concerns. Life in Northeast Ohio has changed dramatically since Chloe Froning returned from Florence.
Froning was among the 220 students studying in Florence this semester. On February 29, they were ordered to return home after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a Level 3 travel advisory related to the coronavirus outbreak. Froning returned home on March 4 and followed the CDC's recommendation to voluntarily quarantine for 14 days. Her parents decided to join her as a precaution.
"About a week ago, I started getting used to online courses that were still running through the Italian program, and my parents were getting used to their online working from home. Some things that have definitely helped have been the community that we're around and friends and other family members bringing us food. And delivery systems are amazing to get food."
Still, Froning acklowledges the isolation was challenging.
"It has been pretty tough, especially because the situation in general is kind of hard to comprehend and wrap my head around. For me personally, it's been pretty hard to work on school, especially because somtimes going to class and seeing people is really what gets me up and going in a day, and makes me feel better. So being home with a couch and a couple cats, it's been pretty hard to get motivated."
Froning said it was hard to imagine when she was leaving Italy that the crisis would spread this quickly back home.
"We were telling the locals working (in Florence) that we had to go back home, and even the shop owners were like, 'This isn't that big of a deal. It's just an old person's disease.' I'm sure that tone has changed. I don't think I realized the whole extent that this can get. I mean, we're almost at a two-week lag behind Italy. I realize how important it is that we get on top of this now."
On March 18, her 14-day quarantine ended. But she's emerging to a new reality in Northeast Ohio, as much of the state has shut down and most everyone is practicing social distancing. Froning says life beyond her 14-day quaratine likely won't be much different.
"I almost feel like we should do the exact same thing we were doing — just stay at home and self-quarantine and not risk spreading that. I still think I need to see friends because you still need that human contact. And of course, getting outside, walking around and riding my bike will be important."
"The other thing I have to realize is that I still have school to look at and projects and maybe work on my resume to find -- That's the other thing, thinking about internships this summer. How is that going to look like? Are we even going to have that this summer?"