a father quarantines at home, sitting with a laptop


My Entire Family Tested Positive for a Variant Of COVID — Here’s What Happened

Apr 12, 2021

In my youth, I did not care much for authority.

That feeling never completely went away, although it did fade with time.

When the government asked us to shelter in place and wear a mask in order to stop the spread of a deadly virus, I answered the call.

I did it out of love for my country, my family and all of you.

Read about how a pair of emergency doctors are protecting their child during COVID-19 here.

That was over a year ago and very little has changed. I wear my mask everywhere I go, as does my family. We have things delivered, we socially distance.

So when I had a sniffle, I thought nothing of it.

I just assumed it was no more than the changing of the seasons. 

When my wife lost her sense of taste and smell, the alarm bells started ringing. Soon after our COVID tests, the phone started ringing.

A lot.

I had clearly given my sniffle to my wife, but I tested negative. My daughter also tested positive.

Chaos and confusion ensued.

We began to get calls from everywhere, information and phone numbers flying at us left right and centre. My daughter's entire cohort was taken out of school and tested. My wife was sent home from work indefinitely. We had to make calls of our own. 

The initial shock and the subsequent guilt plagued us. How could this have happened? We go nowhere, we do nothing. Did we kill anyone?

"I thought, 'Screw it, let’s just play video games.'"

But some small victories began to trickle in.

Our daughter found that the online schooling system had improved dramatically. Sometimes I could even hear her laughing and excited, sometimes doing jumping jacks in her room for “gym.”

My wife's work sent her home with full pay, they brought in a mobile unit to test the entire place. No one had it. The school came back to us, too: None of her classmates got it from her.

All of a sudden, all of the panic and phone calls felt worth it. We even celebrated that night. It was a great relief to hear that our efforts were not in vain, that no one was going to die on our watch.

After the shock and worry, we took the time off. None of us had any major symptoms, we were all together and everyone was safe.

I thought, “Screw it, let’s just play video games.”

Conspiracy theories abound at the best of times. With COVID-19, it's no different. Here's how one day is helping his daughter navigate them.

Then the second wave hit

A few days later, our contact tracers called us back frantically.

The test had come up positive for the B.1.1.7 variant of the novel coronavirus. Their increased attention to detail was both plainly evident and alarming.

At the time, we were three of but a few hundred cases known in Ontario. They asked us, politely but firmly, to go get tested at the 10-day mark of infection to further some research that was being done. My family, happy to do anything to combat the virus, agreed.

Upon what was already daily confusion, more fuel was thrown into the fire.

This time I tested positive and they were negative. It defied all logic. I had COVID barely six weeks earlier but had tested positive after a negative test. They tested negative when they should not have been able to, since their infections were only days old. 

The only thing everyone agreed on was that we seem to know much less about this virus than we would like to.

When my contact tracer called me, she said there was only one option. She told me that I had to isolate myself from my family, or I might just pass it back to them.

I could not touch my family, nor be closer than six feet without a mask. As far as I was concerned, it felt like being told I was going to prison.

Katharine Hagerman compares parenting during COVID-19 to a marathon. Read about what she means by that here.

Feeling Helpless

I had done everything I could. I had done everything anyone had ever asked of me, and now I was doing a stint in solitary.

If I had symptoms or was in pain, I could use it to find the will to make the best of my situation, to perhaps relieve some of the broiling resentment.

There were none. Just me. No matter how I looked at it, the only enemy here was me. The prospect of maintaining a facade for my family crumbled quickly, and it crumbled for all of us before the end. Bitterness and selfishness found its way into each of us. It was like we emotionally distanced ourselves to help endure the isolation.

My mind spun during my time alone. I will admit that I drifted down selfish and terrible patterns of thought.

"Bitterness and selfishness found its way into each of us."

Days and nights began to flow together into an endless grey. I ached just to touch my beautiful wife again, just to kiss my daughter, just to be allowed to go to the grocery store, just to be allowed to sleep on something other than a couch.

I knew that all these feelings were selfish, but that didn't make them any less intense. It certainly didn’t make them any more manageable.

I hated every single thing I had to do, but in the end I am glad that I did it anyway. It was the right thing to do, although it couldn't have felt more wrong. I did it for all the grandparents of my daughter's friends, I did it for everyone that will not be as lucky as I was. I did it mostly for people I will never meet, people like you. I would do it again if I had to.

The time that passed felt like years, yet the day of my release finally approached.

After dinner on the last day of my quarantine, I took my daughter out for a long bike ride. It was important that I tired her out and that she slept soundly that night. Because soon it would be midnight, and I would be allowed to touch my wife again.

Article Author Quentin Janes
Quentin Janes

Quentin Janes is an aspiring novelist living on the banks of the Rouge Valley in Toronto.

He spends his time raising his beautiful daughter and solving the problems of the world from the safety of his computer chair.

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