Little House of COVID

Precautions, preparation keys to pulling Chambless family through pandemic

By Kathleen Chambless For Clay Today
Posted 10/27/21

CLAY COUNTY – It started off small. My father had been congested for a week. He took cold medicine, but it wasn’t working as well as he’d hoped. My mom was taking care of him, but she had …

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Little House of COVID

Precautions, preparation keys to pulling Chambless family through pandemic


CLAY COUNTY – It started off small. My father had been congested for a week. He took cold medicine, but it wasn’t working as well as he’d hoped. My mom was taking care of him, but she had noticed her allergies were acting up more than they usually did when she took her allergy spray.

We worried about COVID of course; the entire world hears someone cough and starts to inch away “just in case”, but my whole family had been vaccinated. Even my younger sister, deathly afraid of needles and shots, got the jab. None of us suffered from any severe side effects after the vaccination. My arm was sore for a few days. My sister said she felt feverish the evening after, but mostly, there was nothing.

I went back to work. I was excited about a new freelancing opportunity at Clay Today that would let me go into the workplace at my leisure and on my schedule, which worked perfectly. I was also doing interviews for the paper and writing two to three articles every week.

It was Saturday. I had to go to the Thrasher-Horne Center to write a review on the Frontmen of Country show. When I got home from the show, my father was already in bed, and my mother let me know we probably wouldn’t go to church Sunday morning.

When I saw my father next, he’d gone to the store again. I was trying to finish my deadline and get the review for the show up in time to go to print, and I had scheduled to go into the workplace on Monday. I was setting up my bag and my files that evening when my dad called us into the sunroom where he’d been sitting.

He had tested positive for COVID-19.

I’d like to say that we weren’t too worried. After all, we’d all been vaccinated, but I’m a notoriously anxious person. I had been working the week before while my father had been feeling sick; I had scheduled myself to work next week. My sister had school, my father had to do some work and needed to travel to meetings. It was like the outside world had frozen. The rest of us had to schedule our tests. There were phone calls to make and schools to contact. I called into both of jobs and let them know I likely could not come in person for the next week, or at least until I got my test done. It was like a rip current out on Jax Beach. One minute you’re in control, and the next you’re so far away from the original plan that you can’t remember what it was.

My mother tested positive first. She had been the one in close contact with my father; she was already feeling the symptoms. Her positive test was no surprise. My sister tested positive later that evening as well. She was a bit of a shock—she experienced no symptoms and because of school and exams; she wasn’t around the rest of us as often that week.

We still called the school and let them know. The health department needed to perform contact tracing. I’d already contacted my friend who went to the Thrasher-Horne with me – it felt like it happened years ago even if it had only been two days, but we both wore masks the whole time and kept our distance from other audience members. She tested negative that week, as did I. But with the rest of my family positive, there was no way I could continue to go out without it weighing on my conscience.

Many jobs are still in limbo. With most places completely reopened, and only a few people still working remote. I was lucky that I could take the time off that I could, that Clay Today was understanding. The pandemic has cost so many people their jobs, their financial security. Many still feel like they’re holding their breath, waiting for the next batch of bad news. The next variant, the next CDC mandate, the next lockdown. Despite the world looking a little closer to normal than it has in the past year, there’s still a looming threat of sickness that no one quite understands completely.

I never felt any symptoms. I was home for two weeks with my family as they quarantined. When my dad felt better, we all took the test again. Two weeks after the rest of my family, I tested positive, despite having never coughed. I remember almost being surprised when I got a positive reading on my test. After so long of not feeling sick while being surrounded by my family who was sick, I almost felt immune. Obviously, that wasn’t the case, but after so long at home, we all went a little stir crazy.

I don’t think all of us were home with each other 24/7 for that long since I was a kid on summer vacation. I rediscovered traits of my family members that I’d almost forgotten. My sister blasts music when she’s cleaning her room. My mom likes to sit outside on the porch with her coffee to watch the birds. My dad watches old western movies when they come on and doesn’t sleep through them because he actually pays attention.

My family can be a little messy, my family is often pretty quiet. We’re all self-contained people, and being at home for so long forced us to break out of our habits and change our routines. I made two pies, and a new curry recipe. My dad didn’t give it his approval, even if it helped decongest him. My cat got so used to me working at the desk in my room that he started sitting on it early in the morning, waiting for me to get up and start writing.

I’m glad to be back at work and able to leave the house. I’m glad my family is feeling better, and that it wasn’t a severe case for any of us. So many people close to me and my family have passed away because of complications with COVID. It seems like it has affected everyone, that we’ve all been through a collective trauma.

There still are questions about what the world is going to look like or what will happen next, but I know for certain that things would have been much worse for my family and me if we weren’t careful.

We wore masks; we got vaccinated. When lockdowns were in effect, we complied.

I don’t know what those three weeks would have been like if we didn’t.


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