HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A wife and mother quarantined with her family to monitor for COVID-19 in Towns County reached out to FYN on Sunday afternoon, March 15, to share her story, stressing the importance of transparency with the public in the midst of the coronavirus outbreak. Shannon Baldwin-Nguyen — the spouse of Thanh Nguyen, a Fulton County firefighter who was exposed to the virus when responding to an infected patient — had several pertinent messages for the local community.
Rather than separate from Nguyen while the veteran firefighter self-monitors for the onset of symptoms, the family decided to quarantine as a unit for the 14-day period required. The quarantined family consists of the couple and their four children, two of whom attend college and a daughter who attends Towns County Schools.
Shannon Baldwin-Nguyen assured that none of her children visited the school campus following her husband’s exposure to the virus and that the family self-quarantined immediately upon Nguyen’s arrival in Towns County on March 10. “Whenever we were notified that he was going to be on home quarantine, I called (Towns County Schools Superintendent) Dr. Berrong and let him know,” Baldwin-Nguyen explained. “I didn’t want anyone at the school to have questions as to whether she had exposed anyone. We have two in college and they did the same. They contacted the administration and their employer to inform them of the situation. The college students are doing their assignments via email and not going to work.”
Baldwin-Nguyen said that their food supply is beginning to run low but the family has relatives who have delivered additional supplies to their driveway.
“We have four children at home so I’ve always bought more than most because of that,” Baldwin-Nguyen said.” I didn’t go out and buy more on Monday night whenever they put them in quarantine. He arrived here at this home around 2 a.m. Tuesday. We have multiple homes, but the one in Hiawassee is the one that I keep fully stocked so that is why he is here. We felt as a family that we should be together.”
The family, who is on day 6 in isolation, is not experiencing any indication of COVID-19 at this time. Nguyen, a Vietnamese refugee who became Georgia’s first Asian firefighter, is reporting his daily health conditions to the proper authorities. “He had a video-chat with the physician during the week,” Baldwin-Nguyen told FYN. “I can’t stress how impressed I am with The City of South Fulton Fire Department, I’ve been through almost 50 years of being in the fire department family with my daddy and husband so I’ve witnessed a lot. The new chief did a great job after finding out that his firefighters were exposed.”
Nguyen and his family were not advised to test for the virus unless they begin to exhibit symptoms.
Towns County Emergency Management Agency assured that there are no other known quarantined individuals in Towns County as of March 15, and no confirmed cases of the virus.
“Towns county government and emergency services continue to learn and prepare,” Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls issued in a statement to FYN. “We want to remind citizens that we currently have no active cases of COVID-19 in Towns County. We understand that one individual was exposed while working in a public safety role in another county and is on home quarantine within Towns County, please be aware that this poses no risk to other individuals. We ask that you take part in preventing the spread of this virus by being mindful of your health and hygiene, and educating yourself from credible sources.”
FYN contacted Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw who stated that he was made aware of the quarantine situation last week by Towns County EMA. FYN intends to remain in remote contact with the Nguyen family throughout what will hopefully be the final week of their ordeal.
“It’s our duty that everyone works together to keep the spread of germs to a minimum,” Baldwin-Nguyen said. “We knew that this would get out and feel that it’s best if information comes from us as opposed to assumptions.” Towns County EMA, along with the Ngutgen family, urged residents who may experience symptoms related to COVID-19 to alert 911 dispatch prior to the arrival of emergency responders.