Peter and Randi (Diabo) Jaramillo will be fully recovered from COVID-19 by Sunday, but having their three-year-old daughter Sofia during the recovery process, and trying to keep her safe, free of the sickness, has been stressful.
“She still hasn’t shown any symptoms, we check her temperature daily and keep a close eye on her behaviour,” said Randi. “I took care of her alone since I had barely any symptoms and Peter was coughing, so he moved into the basement to limit her contact with germs as much as possible. One parent was safer than both.”
The family lives in Glen Burnie, Maryland.
The culprit to catch the respiratory disease, which is derived from the novel coronavirus, was Peter’s job screening Amazon employees as they enter and exit Amazon Air at Baltimore Airport.
“There were a few positive cases already and I suspect that’s where it came from,” he said. “I started out with just a stuffy nose. Randi suggested it might be allergies since that wasn’t a symptom listed by the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), and it’s allergy season, but the following night (April 21) I had a fever of 100.4 degrees.
“She suggested getting screened for a test because of where I work. It was at that point that I isolated from her and our daughter. I called the next day and got a test at 3 p.m. (April 22). I found out Friday (April 24) that I was positive and by then had a throbbing headache, I started a dry cough, had aches and pains and could no longer taste or smell food,” said Peter.
He had the fever (for one day), a cough, was losing his breath from climbing stairs, and was aching, among other issues.
His partner Randi admitted they “sort of felt like it was inevitable with Peter’s job,” and with her out-of-the-way desk as Principle Circuit Design Engineer for Northrop Grumman, 30 feet from the nearest person, she knew if anyone caught it, it would be him.
After Peter received his positive result, “my sense of taste and smell had disappeared completely and I noticed simple tasks would make me tired,” said Randi.
“I called for my own screening and they agreed that I should be tested as well. I also turned out to be positive. As days went on, I didn’t develop any more symptoms beyond these but the exhaustion went through waves. Some days I would feel okay, other days I would want to sleep after just doing dishes, but I never really felt sick.”
Sofia acted as kind of comic relief, sad as their situation was, as she built forts, and kept her parents out, saying they have germs and they had to sit far away from her.
“She has adapted well to distancing from us and frequent hand-washing. We have a spare basement bedroom and bathroom so we’re lucky,” said Randi.
“My routine included the following: I wore a mask around her and while preparing food, I washed my hands frequently. We had separate hand towels for drying our hands and I would dry with paper towels before food prep, just to be extra cautious.
“I kept her at a distance and she adjusted well to that. We established seating and areas which were only hers (in the kitchen and living room) and everything was sanitized (including play areas) after she went to bed,” said Randi.
On top of that, the county health department was calling daily to check in on the family, and were pleased to learn all rules were being followed for a quicker recovery, and to avoid spreading it to Sofia.
“I’m still terrified because she will eventually return to daycare, although we are delaying that as much as possible,” she said.
Work for both parents re-starts on Monday, after the final okay from their primary care physician.
Thanks to opposite shift work – Randi in the day and Peter at night – Sofia will have at least one parent to care for her as work is thrown back into the mix.
“We definitely felt some guilt, as though we didn’t try hard enough to keep ourselves safe and protect our daughter, even using Instacart for grocery delivery and only leaving the house for work, but we had to tell ourselves that this virus is unpredictable and even doing things perfectly is not always enough,” said Randi.
“Our number one priority became keeping her safe, no matter how difficult it was to achieve that, or how low our energy was when it came to the constant disinfecting.”
The thought of both of them ending up in the ER “certainly entered our minds,” especially being hours away from family members, but “we just tried to stay positive and hope for the best, but did speak to some family members and had somewhat of a plan in place which we hoped we’d never have to use,” she said.
“We taught ourselves to just take things one day at a time and do our best,” she added. “Control what you can and try not to stress too hard about things you can’t.”
Her message to the community, with her and her family being so far away from Kahnawake in the US, is one of safety.
“We hope the community gets through these times in good health and we wish everyone who happens to cross paths with COVID-19 a smooth and speedy recovery,” said Randi.
“This whole situation can be very mentally and emotionally overwhelming so we must do our best to stay positive and be there for each other…from a safe distance.”
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Eastern Door Editor/Publisher Steve Bonspiel started his journalism career in January 2003 with The Nation magazine, a newspaper serving the Cree of northern Quebec.
Since that time, he has won numerous regional and national awards for his in-depth, impassioned writing on a wide variety of subjects, including investigative pieces, features, editorials, columns, sports, human interest and hard news.
He has freelanced for the Montreal Gazette, Toronto Star, Windspeaker, Nunatsiaq News, Calgary Herald, Native Peoples Magazine, and other publications.
Among Steve's many awards is the Paul Dumont-Frenette Award for journalist of the year with the Quebec Community Newspapers Association in 2015, and a back-to-back win in 2010/11 in the Canadian Association of Journalists' community category - one of which also garnered TED a short-list selection of the prestigious Michener award.
He was also Quebec Community Newspapers Association president from 2012 to 2019, and continues to strive to build bridges between Native and non-Native communities for a better understanding of each other.