NBC correspondent Stephanie Ruhle has a plea to lawmakers and preparation advice for the public after she and her entire family recently experienced firsthand what it's like to test positive for COVID-19.
Ruhle's husband tested positive a day before Thanksgiving and then Ruhle and her three children, ages 14, 11 and 7, also tested positive.
She told Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb on TODAY Tuesday that they have all recovered, but the experience shook her after she and her husband had to quarantine in separate homes and leave their children to take care of themselves for a week.
"I definitely think now everybody should have essentially a game plan," Ruhle said. "This is a time when you want to make sure you know all your neighbors because you're probably going to need your neighbors to be dropping food off. You can't run out to the store, so be prepared."
Ruhle suggested keeping a piece of paper handy with the address of a local testing site and your primary doctor's contact number, as well as a go bag with a mask and ibuprofen.
The virus is raging across the country, which has passed a grim milestone of more than 15 million cases. The spread may only get worse in the coming weeks due to all the gatherings over Thanksgiving, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious diseases specialist.
Ruhle's experience taught her that taking precautions like wearing a mask and social distancing may not be enough to avoid getting COVID-19.
"I want you to know I did all the right things," she said on MSNBC Monday. "I wore a mask, I kept my distance, but still I got COVID, and I realized that doing the right thing isn't enough. Had we not tested our family, we would've potentially exposed our colleagues, our neighbors, our kids' schools. We were one day away from unknowingly, potentially being superspreaders."
Ruhle, who also shared her experience in an essay for NBC News, realized that she was lucky to be privileged enough that her husband could quarantine in their New York City apartment while she and her children could be at their New Jersey home. She also has a job and income that allowed her to take the necessary time off to isolate after testing positive.
Ruhle cited the ordeal of her hairdresser, who took off nearly two weeks from work and pulled her children out of school after Ruhle informed her that she had tested positive. The woman found out eight days after taking a test that she was negative for the virus, but lost income because she stayed home from work.
"This is a call to action to our lawmakers that yes, it's great that we have a vaccine coming, but we don't have a vaccine immediately, and when you do take that test and you're expected to quarantine for a while, we need to consider what that does to a lot of people financially," Ruhle said on TODAY. "Financially, many people, they can't afford to quarantine, especially those who don't have symptoms, so we need to start considering this because the only way to be safe is to take those tests and isolate, and we got to be in position where we can really do that."
Ruhle also detailed what she sees as a broken testing system.
"It took us days to get test results, and some of our test results never came back," she said.
She wrote for NBC News that she never got her test results from an urgent care clinic and that her husband's first PCR test was never processed or got lost. He ended up paying $250 for a test from a private lab.
"The only way we can get through this is if we have a system that works for everyone, and after having Covid-19, I'm convinced that we do not," she wrote.