Fearing COVID-19 spread to families, health care workers self-isolate at home

March 31, 2020 / By Caitlin Fichtel and Sarah Kaufman

After Dr. Tim Cheng, a pulmonary and critical care doctor in Orange County, California, saw his first COVID-19 patient, he made the decision to self-isolate, moving into a tent in the garage, to avoid the possibility of infecting his family with the coronavirus.

Cheng is one of many health care workers who have decided to move out of their homes and into temporary spaces to prevent community spread amid the pandemic.

He spoke with NBC News’ Social Newsgathering Team and said he, along with his wife and family, “made the group decision [that] I should isolate myself from the rest of the family because we didn’t want to take that chance.”

Cheng lives with his wife, their young daughter and his in-laws. He said his mother-in-law is immunocompromised.

After he spent one night in his car and four nights in an on-call room at his hospital, his wife, Venus, came up with the idea to pitch the tent in their garage so he could still be nearby.


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Chris J. Stewart

Chris currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Surgio Health as well as Chief Operating Officer at Ortho Spine Partners. Prior to that, he was the assistant vice president and business unit leader of Medical Device Management for HealthTrust Purchasing Group (HPG).

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