LOS ANGELES – In the predawn hours on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, Alyssa Fetters awoke her fiancé in severe pain.
Fetters was six weeks pregnant and had learned about two weeks prior that her pregnancy was ectopic — when the egg grows outside of the uterus. Learning that there would be no way for the egg to survive and that her own health could be in danger, she had already started the difficult treatment to stop the cells from growing.
On that Saturday morning, something had gone wrong.
Mark Fitzgerald drove his pregnant partner to the emergency room and then, due to COVID-19 protocols, was forced to wait for word outside the walls of the hospital. Over the phone, he would learn that the egg had ruptured and that Fetters would be prepped for emergency surgery to tend to her internal bleeding.
When she awoke, safe, in an anesthetic daze, Fetters learned that she had tested positive for the coronavirus. She was asymptomatic but, per protocol, was rushed to the hospital's COVID-19 wing, where her physical and emotional recovery in isolation began.
"In the grand scheme of things, we're really lucky. We're both still working, we're both still in our home," Fetters, 36, said. "But it was horrible — I wouldn't want it to happen again."
More than 2 million people have tested positive for the coronavirus in California. More than 20,000 have died, and thousands more have faced a tenuous recovery. In every instance, the infection sentences a person to isolation, away from family, roommates and friends. Some have had to bear the burden in a hospital room; others have been more fortunately able to return to their living spaces. There, the sick and the healthy are often separated by a mere wall, when home becomes a haven and a confine.
Californians who have isolated or quarantined after a coronavirus exposure told The Times that even when the physical distance between loved ones is slight, the emotional distance can sometimes feel vast.
"No hugs, no touching my wife of 33 years, no life, really for more than a week. It was depressing and at times infuriating," said William Burns, 66, of San Diego after he was exposed to the virus at work.