My Family’s COVID Chronicles (Part 2)

One of my six-year-old twins tested positive for COVID last week, a month after we went through this with her ten-year-old brother. While things  played out very differently in these two episodes, they both highlight the importance of proactively identifying mild cases in order to reduce further spread.

Catching Patient 0

With our son, we were notified of an exposure at childcare and he tested positive by rapid antigen test a mere 48 hours later, with a very faint line. We clearly caught it on the cusp of takeoff. He didn’t have any symptoms at the time of his first positive test. In fact, the only symptom he ever experienced (or shared!) was a hint of congestion.
With our daughter, we were not notified of an exposure, because local public health guidelines  are very lax right now. Testing is no longer encouraged for mild cases. No testing means no contact tracing. Our only hope of catching early cases is to use symptoms, but spread often happens before symptoms appear (if they ever do!).
It took some serious mama “spider senses” to even consider testing my daughter. The only clues were a few days of sleeping in by 15 minutes, asking for a tissues a few times, and low appetite at breakfast (this was the final straw that triggered me to test her). Even then, I was very surprised by her positive result. We immediately tested the rest of the family, and everyone else was negative, including her twin sister (with whom she spends 24 hours per day!).


In both cases, we did as much as possible to limit further spread. We notified recent contacts and canceled all social plans, even for those of us not (yet) positive. We began checking our status daily in order to determine who could safely run errands if needed, and who could switch over to the COVID team.
At home, we all wore stellar masks whenever we were together, we isolated our infected child in their own sleeping space and designated bathroom. We didn’t eat together or share toys.
These precautions worked with my son’s case. With my daughter, it was too late. The rest of us tested positive in the first few days after our patient 0, which means it’s likely she infected us before testing positive.

Symptoms and Spread

Our first positive rapid antigen test was my sweet six-year old girl on 1/28. Two days later, her twin sister tested positive. The next day, hubby and I tested positive. Our ten-year-old son, with “hybrid immunity” (vax + infection) has escaped (as of writing this, on day 5)

Everyone’s journey has been different, but all have been mercifully mild. 

Both girls have been sleeping in and seem tired at the end of the day. During the day, they have been as perky as ever, with no complaints. Both girls told me they weren’t hungry at breakfast on the first positive day but appetites have been decent otherwise. One twin was a bit hot one evening, but so mild we could easily have missed it. 

For hubby, it’s been like the flu. He felt a sore throat on 1/30 (2 days after kid+) but was testing negative (nasal swab). The next morning I insisted he add a throat swab and he tested dark positive. As an experiment, we also did a single nose and single throat swab and they were both very faint positive, barely visible. That day he said his sore throat was pretty bad and was feeling “not good”. He powered through work and went to bed super early at 7:30. He had a restless night with a few sweats but was back at work and functional, though tired, the next morning.

For me, it’s been like a mild cold. I had a tickle in my throat on 1/30 (2 days after kid+) but it was so subtle I wasn’t sure if I was being paranoid. On 1/31 I tested negative in the morning doing my usual dual throat/nose swab technique. But, after the throat swab experiment with hubby was so dramatically positive, I opted to re-test myself in the afternoon with a more aggressive throat swab further back in the throat. It came back positive. Since then, I’ve had a minor sore throat and minor sniffles. Energy has been so good I’m still able to work out. 

Ending Isolation

My plan is for each of us to isolate until we test negative by rapid tests. Unfortunately, this will likely take roughly 10 days, based on what we know about Omicron. This is how long it took for my son to clear the virus when he was infected a month ago, and is fairly typical. Given this expectation, I’ll test each of us on Day 5, then again on Day 8, and go from there. 

To me, this strategy makes the most sense scientifically, because a positive rapid test means that you are carrying a lot of virus (to the tune of millions of protein copies) and are likely contagious. 

My plan is more conservative many public health guidelines. Here in BC, and in the United States, the minimum requirement is 5 days of isolation followed by 5 days of masking. This policy reflects the fact that “most” spread happens in the first 5 days, and that there is a cost to individuals and to society for isolating.

I recognize that I am privileged to have the flexibility to isolate longer in order to protect my community. Regardless of what strategy you adopt, please recognize that contagiousness does not magically turn off at 5 days, and take precautions seriously for the full ten days (or longer, if needed). Read more about COVID tests and contagiousness in this article I wrote for Dear Pandemic.


  • Very mild cases can still be highly contagious. Don’t underestimate them! My little girl infected her vaxxed sister and two boosted adults.
  • Early detection is the key to preventing further transmission. Stock up on rapid antigen tests if government access is limited. You can purchase tests online at a variety of sites that I have linked to in this article
  • Rapid antigen tests can also be a valuable tool to figure out when it’s safe to interact with others at home and elsewhere.
  • Vaccinate vaccinate vaccinate! While vaccines can’t make you bulletproof, they do reduce severe disease with every variant. Vaccines may also help to reduce long COVID, which is a wildcard we should all try to minimize.
  • Take matters into your own hands to protect your community. In BC, schools guidelines are very lax right now – we are told not to test if mild and simply keep kids home if “sick”. If we had done so, who knows how many more cases we could have caused.