A quarantine Christmas

A cautionary tale

Some of you may remember that I wrote last week about how my family had decided to have small get-togethers this year. We were being careful and isolating before our Christmas celebrations. Many family members, myself and my wife included, were tested for COVID before we got together. A chain, however, is only as strong as its weakest link.

Due to the fact that the family is spread out and work schedules that make Christmas Day gatherings inconvenient, we had our get-togethers last weekend. Last night, my mother-in-law called to tell me that my sister-in-law and her daughter had tested positive for COVID.

Unknown to me when we had our gift exchange on Saturday, my sister-in-law wasn’t feeling well. She told me that she had been mostly isolated since testing negative for COVID a few days earlier. After we were already in contact, she explained away a runny nose and the fact that she didn’t seem to be feeling well as allergies.

So now, to make a long story short (too late!), we are on day five after exposure and waiting to see if any of my family develops symptoms. So far, none of us have. We also have to worry while we wait that we may have inadvertently infected someone else, such as my parents.

Other than being responsible and isolating ourselves, our next course of action is going to be to get tested again. The CDC recommends getting tested 5-7 days after exposure or when symptoms develop. That puts us within the window so we’ll look for testing sites that are open today.

Harvard Health notes that the onset of symptoms is usually between three and 14 days after exposure. People are known to be contagious from 48 to 72 hours prior to experiencing symptoms. That gives me hope that it might not have spread to the rest of the family, but what about my son’s girlfriend who came to see us after we got home and then went to visit her grandmother?

My sister-in-law now feels horrible, not only physically (although her case seems to be somewhat mild) but emotionally. She feels guilty for having put people she loves at risk.

Ironically and tragically, our family get-togethers happened on the same weekend that a family friend passed away from COVID two weeks after being placed on a ventilator. The 47-year-old wife of my childhood neighbor contracted COVID just before Thanksgiving and was placed on a ventilator on December 6, as I mentioned in an article at the time. She was a healthy and vibrant woman until she encountered Coronavirus.

We thought we could do Christmas safely, but a weak link broke the chain. Now, we have to sit around and wait to see who gets sick. If you haven’t had your family Christmas gathering or parties with friends yet, my recommendation would be to cancel your plans. It simply isn’t worth risking the possibility that COVID will spread among your family. If you must get together, try to social distance and/or wear masks.

And for the sake of all that’s good and Holy, if you are having symptoms or have been exposed, stay home and isolate yourself.