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One Angeleno’s Coronavirus Pandemic Diary: Day 6 – My Daughter Has a Cough

1:02 PM PDT on March 17, 2020

Day 6 of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 16 there are people infected/deaths: worldwide 181,788/7,111, U.S. 4,176/73, CA 400/6, L.A. County 94/1

Today is the first entry in a series of journal-type stories about what's happening regarding coronavirus in my neck of the woods. The diary will focus on me, Streetsblog Editor Joe Linton, and my family. We're a three-person unit, my wife, me, and a 6-year-old who's now at home from her LAUSD elementary school. We'll see what shape this thread will take over time.

(And two disclaimers off the bat: First - I am not a medical professional - nothing in this journal should take the place of actual medical advice. Second - though I'm going to complain some, I understand that I've got a lot of privilege in this situation. I already work from home. I am healthy. As hard as this virus' impacts might be on me, it's hitting others - low income folks, communities of color, unhoused folks - much harder.)

Last Thursday - the day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic - our daughter Maeve woke up with a cough. This is not an unusual occurrence. She's a relatively healthy kid, but I don't think that a winter month has gone by without Maeve getting a cough and quickly recovering from it. It seemed mild. We took her temperature and it was normal, so my wife took her school. After school at our home, we proceeded with a planned afternoon playdate with one of Maeve's best classmate friends.

In the afternoon, we took her temperature and it was still normal. She was full of energy, though she was coughing a bit. At bedtime she was coughing more (as is often the case when one lies down), but her temperature was again normal. LAUSD schools were open the next day - Friday (which would be the last day they were open) - but we decided that, given a persistent cough, it made sense to keep her home.

The next morning - Friday - Maeve woke up with a temperature of 100.4° F.

My wife called our daughter's doctor at Kaiser. They responded promptly that:

Kaiser is not actively testing for COVID-19 unless with medical symptoms of a cough and fever there has been travel out of the country with 14 days or have been exposed to a known individual who has tested positive within 14 days.

At this stage we want you to remain at home and use symptomatic measures, humidifier, Tylenol, increased fluids. If Maeve's fever continues to remain at 100.4 for more than 3 days and her coughing worsens or she has shortness of breath, please schedule an appointment...

In the early afternoon, this was up to 101.2° F.

We texted Maeve's friends' parents. I felt crappy that we'd exposed their kids to Maeve's cough. I should have known better than to send her to school with that cough. And most of all we worried about our daughter. How high would that fever go? And what was that tickle in the back of my throat - did I get Maeve's cough? Was I sick or just fearful?

We texted our families. My father in law asserted that we should get her tested anyway. I responded that testing was needed for folks who were more seriously in bad shape - and that a trip to a medical office meant potential exposure to the virus.

Maeve was happy to be watching a lot of videos, reading, and doing artwork. She wasn't so into her parents pushing so much hand-washing and drinking lots of fluids.

That evening her temperature was 101.0° F. At least it wasn't spiking massively... but by then we were hearing stories that other kids had flus where temperatures were up and down.

The good news is that she seems pretty fine right now. The next day - Saturday - she continued to rest while her temperature went down to 99.6° then 99.0°. On Sunday it was back to normal, and her cough was nearly gone. We all needed to get out of the house, so we took a family bike ride (bicycling is looking like a good way to get around during this pandemic) to picnic and birdwatch at the L.A. River. We thought about a hike, but didn't want to be too ambitious.

Last night my wife asked me how we know if she had coronavirus. I have an uninformed hunch - in retrospect - that her illness just seemed really mild. I stammered "well... uh... We don't."

Today, Maeve's temperature is again normal. She's bouncing off the walls, and asking why can't she play with her friends. And that's a nice problem to have.

Today's recommended reading:

Image of the day:

1918 Colorado Sun ad "Ride a Bicycle / And Keep Well" - via Ben Harding

Bicycling is surging in some cities right now - and, unless prohibited, appears to be a good transportation option during the Coronavirus pandemic. The same was true in 1918, where this ad encouraged riding a bike "as a precaution against the influenza, keep out of the crowds; ride a bicycle to and from your work."

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