Lifestyle

Living Hell: When The Entire Family Gets COVID-19

Updated: 
Originally Published: 
KatarzynaBialasiewicz/Getty

In late October, my wife asked me to take her to the ER because she was having a hard time breathing. After three negative COVID tests, she was diagnosed with pneumonia, and septic shock. She spent three weeks at a hospital an hour away from our home. Our closest family was a state away, and although family and friends asked to come help with my three kids, I repeatedly turned them down because I didn’t want to bring COVID into an already precarious situation. But I must say, as I drove to the hospital each day to visit my wife, I couldn’t help but wonder what this would all be like if it were COVID, and my whole family was infected. As it turns out, an entire family contracting COVID isn’t all that unusual, and it sounds like a straight up living hell.

Take the example of nurse Sofia Burke, recently profiled in The Washington Post. Despite following all health and safety guidelines for months, Burke didn’t know that her mother graciously offered to give an elderly friend a ride to the doctor to treat a cold. They wore masks in the car, and kept the windows down. However, it turns out that simple cold was COVID, and that small offer to help out a friend ended up infecting Burke’s entire seven-person household with the deadly virus.

Motortion/Getty

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Burke was quoted in The Washington Post with this warning: “My mother left her guard down for one moment — one moment. And in that swift moment, my entire family was affected.” And as you might have guessed, family members reacted to the infection with various levels of severity. Most of the family experienced mild systems. Burke’s mother spent six days at the hospital and is now at home recovering with supplemental oxygen. Her two-year-old daughter, Elena, who suffers from diabetes, was also taken to the emergency room because of a recurring fever, but she was not admitted. Otto Bowless, her 93-year-old father, died from COVID-19 complications. And Burke herself, a nurse who helped treat the first wave of COVID patents in New Jersey, was admitted to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with pneumonia and given a mask to increase her oxygen levels.

Listen, this is not an isolated story. Not at all. Earlier this year, the virus killed a mother and her three sons in New Orleans. In New Jersey, a 73-year-old mother, three of her 11 children and her sister died of COVID complications.

Molly Grantham of WBTV in Charlotte shared the story of her family becoming infected, along with her 10-day-old baby. To say being quarantined because of COVID was not how she expected to spend postpartum recovery is an understatement. I don’t want to speak for all recovering mothers, but during those first few months is when new moms need the most help. I can only imagine how difficult it would be to have a baby right now, particularly when you have COVID and cannot leave the house.

And then there are the tragic stories of a family getting COVID, and then a child losing both their parents. According to CBS news, back in August, 17-year-old Justin Hunter from the Atlanta area lost both his parents to COVID-19 within four days of each other. In a heartbreaking Twitter post, Hunter said this to his parents: “I hope you know a lot of people looked up to you, including myself.”

And according to ABC 7, 14-year-old Isaiah Garcia from Houston also lost both his parents to COVID. His mother died first; two weeks later, he lost his father. And sadly, just like Joe Biden said in the first presidential debate, he didn’t get the chance to tell them goodbye. “I didn’t get to say goodbye to my mom or my dad now, and that’s what hurt me the most,” Garcia said. He is now being raised by his uncle.

Naturally, there are situations where the whole family gets COVID, and they get better, and it’s no big deal. There is a family in my neighborhood who contracted it from one of their daughters. They all went on lockdown for two weeks, and are about to be COVID free tomorrow with no major issues. But even escaping long-term issues and severe illness, can you imagine the hassle of dealing with an entire household of sick people, especially when you’re sick yourself? I don’t know any parent who wants to deal with a virus taking the whole bunch down. And it’s not just a virus — it’s freaking COVID, which means no one can come over and feed you chicken soup and fluff your pillows. You’re on your own, and no matter how sick you feel, you have to care for your entire household. And what if you have to go to the hospital — who would care for your COVID-positive kids?

The fact is, this virus is deadly, and assuming that just because you and your family might not end up with a serious, or even deadly case — so you might as well live your life as if it’s not a threat to others — is beyond selfish. And if you question that, take a look at the examples above.

The goal right now is to stay safe, while also protecting your community, and that really can only happen with social distancing, mask wearing, and staying home wherever possible. No, this is not a permanent solution. No, this is not a government conspiracy. There will be a vaccine available very soon, but in the months between now and then, it is paramount that we think about others as much as we think about ourselves.

This article was originally published on