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What I learned when my family got COVID-19

By Lindsay Pinchuk

BCB Founder, Lindsay Pinchuk, was shocked when half of her family tested positive for COVID-19.  She shared her family’s story with BCB, but also wants to point out some of the important takeaways from having  this virus enter her home. 

As I shared in the story about half of my family testing positive for COVID-19, I was shocked that this virus had entered my home.  We had been so incredibly careful, proving that no one is immune to COVID-19.   Despite working with COVID-19 experts such as the doctors and Co-Founders of IMPACT, and world class epidemiologists, “Those Nerdy Girls,” from Dear Pandemic, over the last nine months, I learned more about this virus than I ever thought possible during the 21 days we were in quarantine.  I share these takeaways in the hopes that others will also benefit from them in protecting their own families and others. 

COVID-19 is beyond contagious.

My husband caught COVID-19 while participating in what is considered a low-risk activity (tennis). While they were indoors, and wore masks until they got on the court, there was no mandate at the club to keep masks on while on the court playing. He was in a tennis bubble, which is no different than many of the current outdoor dining options.

He was farther away than you would be sitting from the table next to you if you were dining outside and removing your mask to eat. Doctors that BCB works with told us that the virus was definitely transmitted through the air (vs. touching the ball) and that there most likely was poor ventilation within the facility causing the virus to spread and reach my husband.

Just because rules, mandates, or protocols are being followed, it does not mean a behavior is necessarily safe.

My husband was exposed and contracted COVID-19 while inside a tennis facility.  While the facility insisted they were following the state mandates (they were not, and that is another story),  it doesn’t really matter.  The mandates and rules are designed to set boundaries and standards.  Just because they exist and are in place, does not mean that you can’t catch COVID-19.

If you are “dining outside” in a tent or a bubble, make sure there is ventilation. This means that the sides are open, there is a cross breeze.  If it is fully enclosed, EVEN if it meets state mandates, it is not the best place for you to be dining.  You’re taking off your mask to eat. With zero ventilation, transmission is more likely.  Just pause, take a minute and really think about the situation you are in. The numbers are high now, and so your chances of contracting COVID-19 are higher than they were say in the summer in the same situations.  You still need to be responsible, wear a mask and stay distant.

COVID-19 impacts people very differently.

I cannot even begin to tell you how lucky my family was. In talking with others, and even the person at the tennis club,  cases of COVID-19 really run the gamut in terms of how sick you may get. Honestly, you just don’t know how it is going to impact you. Even scarier is sitting and worrying about what could happen.   Just because one person is mild, doesn’t mean it will be for you too.  This holds true even in those who have tested positive within the same household.

A negative test means nothing.

My daughter took a rapid and PCR test on the same day.  Her rapid was negative and her PCR came back positive 48 hours later.  Had we assumed she was negative and taken our masks off in our home, we may be in a different situation right now.  We’ll never really know.

I feel compelled to point this out as so many people are using rapid tests to see if they are “safe” to travel, see loved ones, and have indoor gatherings with friends and loved ones—especially over the holidays.  Many are doing this without the 14 day mandatory quarantine for all involved parties.  I recently heard a story about a young couple who were trying to conceive, taking tests and flying to another part of the country to be with their parents who are in their 70s. They were not planning to quarantine prior, nor were they planning to mask or distance upon arrival. This is just the behavior that the CDC and every healthcare provider is asking people NOT to partake in right now.  It is a recipe for disaster for everyone involved.

I’ve heard so many people use the excuse of:  “well, we all took tests and we were negative” to validate their own social gatherings.  (This seems to be a favorite justification for unsafe COVID-19 behavior among many influencers on Instagram.) THIS IS NOT A SAFE BAROMETER BY ANY MEANS. A negative test ONLY means you are negative the minute you take the test.  You could still have the virus and you can still spread the virus in the days following.  This is why the lowest risk option if you are planning to test is to do so following a 14 day quarantine by ALL parties. You can find more information from Dear Pandemic on this topic here. 

Masks work.

Me, my daughter and my au pair wore a mask in my house for 21 days straight. None of us caught COVID, that we are aware of. (We will eventually go for antibody tests.). Truthfully, I do believe that had my husband been wearing a mask on the tennis court, we would not have been in this situation to begin with.  A friend and her daughter took a tennis lesson with a pro at the same club the week prior.  The pro tested positive the day after.  While they had to quarantine and test, they were also wearing masks.  Neither of them got sick, neither of them tested positive.  

Additionally, I want to point out that BOTH of my kids were IN SCHOOL from August until November.  They wore masks and were six-feet a part from other kids and teachers while indoors every day.  From what we are aware of, there was zero transmission of COVID at school.  There were cases, but those came from outside factors:  playdates, parents getting sick, unmasked carpools, outside sports, and unmasked gatherings outside of school.  Again further proving, masks do in fact work.

COVID-19 is nothing to be embarrassed about.

If you feel off, if you feel sick, GET A TEST.  It isn’t worth it to ignore it.  You never know if your sniffle is COVID or if it is a cold.  If it IS the former, you want and need to make sure that you’re not spreading this virus. It could be deadly to others even if it isn’t for you.  ANYONE CAN CATCH THIS, and many more people will.  BUT, you have to be accountable and make sure that if you are exposed or not feeling well, you follow the proper protocols. If your family does get COVID-19, this is a very helpful resource, the “Caring for COVID at Home” toolkit from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

There are a lot of unknowns with COVID-19.

We don’t know the long term impacts on a COVID positive patient.  We also don’t know how long or if there are any immunities following a positive case. We don’t know much about transmitting the disease after you have it.  The tests don’t show the contagion levels, as some people are more contagious than others. These are  just some of the unknowns. Because of this, it is just best to be safe.  Wear your mask, distance from those who live outside of your house. And know that with the vaccine now being distributed, the end is near.  Just hang on for a little bit longer.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST, AND CERTAINLY MOST IMPORTANT:  You don’t want COVID-19 in your house.

Period.  Despite how lucky we were with mild cases in ours, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.  I wouldn’t wish the mental anguish, I wouldn’t wish your kids worrying that something awful is going to happen to your family, I wouldn’t wish the emotional toll that is large part of this awful virus.  When you let your guard down, you’re simply rolling the dice.  The workout, the meal, the airplane ride, the playdate, the holiday gathering.  I can tell you right now, in the long run:  it’s just not worth it.

NOTE:  Here are the definitions and differences between a PCR and Antigen (rapid) COVID-19 test:

  1. Antigen test (frequently referred to as a rapid test). This test detects protein fragments specific to the Coronavirus. It can be done in a clinic, doctor’s office, or hospital. Turnaround time for results is usually very quick and in some cases, results can be reported within 15 minutes.
  2. PCR test. PCR testing is considered the “gold standard” in SARS-CoV-2 detection. This test actually detects RNA (or genetic material) that is specific to the virus and can detect the virus within days of infection, even those who have no symptoms. The test can be done in a clinic, hospital, or even in your car. Turnaround time is longer, generally in the 2-3 day range but results can be in as little as 24 hours. When demand is high, results can take a week or longer.

Source: MemorialHealthcare.org

Follow BCB’s Founder, Lindsay Pinchuk, on Instagram for more on her daily life as a entrepreneur and business woman, mom and wife.  

THE CONVERSATION NEVER STOPS AT BUMP CLUB AND BEYOND! We’ve been supporting the BCB Community through COVID-19 since the start. Check out our COVID-19 resource channel.  Make sure you’re following us on Instagram and Facebook  for more ideas as we navigate both COVID-19 AND parenthood together. 

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