PARAMUS, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — People who have recovered from the coronavirus are navigating another road fraught with questions.

When is it safe to stop isolating?

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On Thursday, CBS2’s Lisa Rozner spoke to an essential worker in Bergen County who is symptom-free but has been separated from his young family for two weeks now.

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Stacey Sheridan’s husband, James, has been living in their Paramus basement for two weeks. He fought a nine-day fever and eventually tested positive for coronavirus.

The couple’s 8-year-old, who is symptomatic, is isolated in a first-floor bedroom, kept away from their 10- and 2-year-olds.


But the good news is James, symptom-free for a week, is approaching the end of his 14-day isolation period. He’s eager to hug his family and get back to work as a drain cleaner, a job considered essential to fix health hazards, like sewer lines backing up. However, it’s unclear if he’s immune to catching the virus again, or if he’ll get others sick.

“It makes us a little scared,” Stacey said. “There’s going to be a lot more of us very soon, thankfully, people that are recovering and no real answer for what are we supposed to do now.”

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Dr. Philip Tierno is a professor of microbiology and pathology at NYU Langone.

“This virus should behave just like other coronaviruses and we have no reason to believe that it’s different. So, you do have usually lifelong immunity, if not at least after a year,” Tierno said.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said if you get two negative test results within a day of each other you’ve officially recovered, but that’s not realistic considering the shortage of tests.

“We’re kind of talking about it now and want to figure out what the best protocol is,” Stacey Sheridan said. “I think that kind of needs to be a part of the conversation.”

For now, James plans to rejoin the family Friday and to play it safe, he’ll wait a few more days after that before returning to work.

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With little government guidance, the Sheridans and other families will be returning to society at their own risk.