Family of six battles COVID-19.

November 17, 2020

Photo courtesy of Rowe & Grace Photography by Bethany Sundell

Family of six battles COVID-19.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

NEW ERA — A young and normally healthy family of six, including a newborn baby, has been hit with COVID-19.

The 35-year-old mother, Chelsea Hayes, shared her story with OCP during a phone interview Tuesday, Nov. 17. Her husband, Nate, is an occupational therapist who works in home health care settings and skilled nursing facilities. They believe he contracted the virus while battling the frontlines, working in COVID-19 units.

Nate, 36, tested positive first. “He found out a week ago yesterday,” Chelsea said. “Thank goodness he found out really fast, because he works with elderly people.”

Isla, 2, getting her COVID test.
– Contributed photo

Despite being extremely cautious at home by wearing a mask and confining himself to the basement of their home, the virus spread quickly throughout their family.

As they all began exhibiting symptoms, they feared the inevitable. “We knew we had it,” she said.

The two oldest children — Adalise, 10, and Anden, 8 — have tested positive. They have not received results yet for the two younger children — Isla, 2, and Imrie, 8 weeks. However, they are exhibiting symptoms.

Anden doing his word searches.
– Contributed photo

Due to the health care worker shortage created by workers becoming sick, their quarantine time is less — 10 days — than the normal 14 days. Nate recently returned to work, but had to return home after exhibiting symptoms again. “They have to be fever-free and symptom-free for 24 hours.”

Nate returned to work before the 10-day quarantine ended because he was in a COVID unit where he would only be in contact with people who currently have the virus. As protocol, he is tested twice each week.

– Contributed photo

The two older children had recently returned to school after beginning the year with virtual instruction for 9 weeks. “They had only been back a week,” Chelsea said, before COVID hit their home. By being back in school and not knowing their possible exposure, it resulted in 30 other people, including students, who had to quarantine due to being in contact with them in classrooms and on the school bus.

Chelsea, who is a behavioral specialist at New Era Elementary School, had already been home on maternity leave with Imrie at the time of the outbreak in their home.

The young mother has been openly transparent on social media about her family’s battle with the deadly virus.

Nate with baby Imrie
– Contributed photo

“Covid has clean swept our home,” Chelsea states in a recent Facebook post. “It took 6 out of 6 of us with it. Isla and Anden have had the most mild symptoms, followed by Adalise. Unfortunately it would seem that Imrie took a hard hit but is hopefully on the up and up. Nate and I have really been on a full tour of the common symptoms COVID has to offer. We have both had fever, chills, muscle aches, headaches, cough, a strong and lasting floating feeling, mental fog, low oxygen, labored breathing, sore eye balls (weird!), sore throat, fatigue and our most recent development; loss of taste and smell. Our saving grace for having to parent sick kids while sick ourselves has been that our symptoms have come and gone over the days rather than all of them at once and Nate is a day or two ahead of me in symptom onset and recovery so that has helped to be able to tag team things. Thankfully, all in all, we have had a manageable battle with the virus in this home. Our thoughts are with those who have not been as fortunate.

– Contributed photo

“What has been really hard is having a newborn that is sick and some days unconsolable, but not knowing what symptoms she is experiencing at the time that she can’t tell you about. I can feel and ‘see’ her fever and can note her fatigue through her reduced wake time. But she has moved through those symptoms and on to days of mystery symptoms that she could only cry herself through, it is quite heartbreaking and frustrating. Please think of Imrie and our family when you get frustrated by all the inconveniences that Covid brings, including wearing a mask. When you call these precautions ridiculous, over the top, pointless, etc., what I hear you saying is that it is not important to you to do the things in your power to stop this from happening, even to a 7-week-old baby. I know masks don’t stop the virus fully, they only reduce the chance of spread, but that’s the best we have in many situations right now. They also act as a signal to those around you about how much you value their health, the health of those around them, your health and the health of those around you. Please let your actions show that you care. It doesn’t go unnoticed.”

If there is a silver lining to the dark coronavirus cloud over this family, it’s that the kids are enjoying more time with Dad. “He was working an insane amount of hours from usually 7:30 in the morning to 9:30-10 at night. He was working relentlessly.”

The kids are finding ways to keep themselves occupied during quarantine by reading, playing games — Anden has been doing word puzzles and sudoku — and watching old sitcoms. Chelsea and Nate don’t allow them to play video games. The family has begun decorating the house for Christmas, too.

The two older kids are helping Mom and Dad with the younger ones. “They’ve fared the virus better than we have,” she said, so the kids have more energy to grab something from another room for the parents tending to the younger children.

“It needs to be known that it isn’t removed from all of us because we’re in a rural community,” she said. “No one is immune — no one is off-limits. Everyone is surrounded by this virus. It’s beginning to feel inevitable.

“It’s time to up the safety measures and not relax them. Luckily, we didn’t infect others.”

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This story is copyrighted © 2020, all rights reserved by Media Group 31, LLC, PO Box 21, Scottville, MI 49454. No portion of this story or images may be reproduced in any way, including print or broadcast, without expressed written consent.

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