Today’s story of a woman being forced into mandatory quarantine at a local hotel after not adhering to the self-isolation requirements illustrates the point quite well that the premier has been trying to make = everyone on this island is closely connected and the only way to control this outbreak in Cayman is by remaining at home with your immediate family.
Mingling with neighbors, friends, and anyone outside of your immediate household exposes you to the possibility of contracting this dreaded disease now that we know local transmission is possible. Here is a tale – based 90% in facts but portions of the story have been altered to protect the identity of the parties involved.
Felipe Hernandez, returned from the Dominican Republic in February. He traveled and arrive on the island quite sick. This was long before the Cayman Islands Government was willing to accept an immediate lockdown should be in place and that we had coronavirus here.
COVID-19 was not on the agenda at all. Coming through Owen Roberts International Airport he would have encountered countless persons with no checks and no questions asked. He sat on a plane with several hundred other persons. Because he was already visibly ill with fever, sneezing etc. everyone in the airport is a potential person who could have obtained it.
At that time no one would have been taking extra precautions to wash their hands, not touch their faces or disinfect their workstations even more. CBC staff handled his passport and porters assisted with luggage. Felipe returned to his tenement yard which houses another five other Dominicans. In the adjacent houses and apartments, there are many more Dominicans – up to 25 in total.
Felipe is very popular and entertains a lot so of course, a party was in order to celebrate his return. He is very close to people in the neighborhood who are eager to hear the full details of his trip back home and share in the native snacks he would have brought back with him.
One lady, Maria Ebanks is especially close to him. Maria has not seen her friend in weeks and immediately the two spend time together celebrating his return to the island. Maria is married to Santa Ebanks a Caymanian small business owner. He comes in contact with both Felipe, Maria and numerous customers on a regular basis.
Eventually, Felipe infects Maria who doesn’t yet realize it. She takes two weeks to become ill and start to show symptoms. In this tenement yard, there is illicit activity occurring such as number selling, drugs, and even prostitution. Whilst Felipe was away Maria was in charge of his number selling business. Upon his return, part of the time they spend together is going over the books of that business. This includes touching money and lots of paper. It was easy for Maria to pick it up from Felipe.
Maria eventually infects her best friend Flora Lopez. Flora, works at a local salon and has extremely close contact with her clients where she offers massages and nail tech services. Flora sneezes at works and introduces droplets into her workplace which then exposes all of her co-workers, salon equipment and customers. Once again, no one is properly disinfecting their equipment.
At some point, Maria’s husband, Santa knows that she is ill and she has now been tested positive for COVID-19. So he picks up and leaves the marital home and goes to West Bay to stay with his family there. That is a household of some four persons who have been told him and Maria are having marital problems – not that Maria has a suspected and eventually confirmed case of COVID-19. In his household is his elderly mother who is also a diabetic.
Flora has several children back in the Dominican Republic and simply doesn’t make enough money from her day job so at night she moonlights as a married man’s side piece. This married man is John Bodden from East End.
When he has to come into town to see his girlfriend he travels with his children so his wife doesn’t get suspicious. The children hang out in the living room whilst he services Flora and she earns her extra money. John’s wife has no idea he is cheating on her. Flora gets the virus and then infects John and his two young children. – all who take it back home to his wife who’s an essential worker. As a nurse, John’s wife Sandy comes in contact with numerous patents and doctors and other family members. She has no idea her husband would be sneaking out during curfew to go and see his Dominican girlfriend.
Flora, is a simple woman and despite them now having tested positive for the virus ignores the warning to stay home alone in complete isolation. Neighbors see her acting as though nothing is wrong. They all say it’s no big deal.
John continues to see her. She continues to roam the neighborhood and go out shopping etc. potentially infecting even more people.
Flora’s landlord is a Caymanian business owner named Sandy Brown. Sandy has connections in the political arena and celebrates a birthday bash in early March with numerous cabinet members and other prominent persons in the community – some who work in the Government Administration Building.
When the authorities finally quarantined the entire area and force Flora into mandatory isolation she hides her relationship with John. Authorities are also unaware of the gambling activities etc. that occur the locations and how many random people come in and out of the immediate area.
Their “contact tracing” is ineffective because people are keeping too many secrets that would get them deported and possibly charged if the authorities really knew the full scope of what was going on.
So despite their best efforts at contact tracing Public Health is left baffled as to why local transmission continues and how some persons are connected. These types of cases require some serious detective work and people are self-servicing with the truth. You cannot expect them to be honest especially with government authorities.
Six degrees of separation means that every single one of us is at risk from those around us. Trust no one!
Staying home and having no contact with anyone outside of your immediate family is the only way to cut off COVID-19 at the source.
Some details have this story and names of the parties have been changed and some information purposely omitted. However, there’s more than enough truth here to make everyone in the community realize what would ordinarily be six degrees of separate elsewhere in the world becomes three degrees of separation in the Cayman Islands.
STAY HOME CAYMAN!