This past week across Colorado and the nation, the COVID Omicron has spread like wildfire, causing disruptions reminiscent of what we went through in 2020.
Restaurants across the state are temporarily closing due to a lack of healthy workers. Pharmacies have cut back hours. Transit officials are struggling to keep buses on the roads in Denver due to drivers calling in sick. Hospitals and schools across the state are also struggling to stay staffed.
Data released by the state show more than 10,000 people in Colorado had tested positive for COVID-19 on nine of the previous ten days as of Friday, and the actual number infected may be much, much higher. An average of 28% of tests performed over the last week were positive.
Health officials estimated that between one in 10 and one in 15 people in Colorado is contagious.
Compared to previous iterations of the virus, omicron is more transmissible and better able to penetrate the protections offered by vaccination and prior infection. Though the variant is less likely to cause hospitalization and severe illness, the number of people with COVID in the state’s hospitals has risen more than 60% since the holidays.
While it is impossible to know how it may have crept into my household directly, I have suspicions that it may be related to the teenage girls who share my domicile with me (AKA my daughters.) Who seem to think they are invincible and often argue against and disregard safety protocols established throughout the house. It can be akin to herding cats, trying to get them to perform basic personal hygiene on an ongoing basis. I have heard speculation that they may get better by the time they are 25 or 30 years old, but I am at this point not holding my breath.
I thought it might be helpful to write about my personal experiences with Omicron, as many of you may soon be going through the same experiences.
This whole experience began this past Friday when my almost 16-year-old daughter had symptoms presenting more like a winter cold on Friday. By Sunday, she ‘feeling better’ was clamoring to spend the night with a friend (as it was a holiday on Monday.) I was not comfortable with this and told her as much. Needless to say, she thought I was being over-reactionary and unfair and stormed down to her teenage lair, slamming every door she could along the way to emphasize what a bad parent I was being.
Sitting there in the silence that followed the echoes of the door slamming, I used my time to try and come up with a compromise that she might see as fair and reasonable. After calling every possible outlet for rapid tests, I could think of in town and close by in the valley; I was at a loss for rapid testing options.
But then, eureka! I called my parents, who live down in Fort Collins, and they indeed had a couple of rapid test kits that we could use to either prove I was being an overprotective and overbearing father or was indeed safe. So after a two-hour round trip where I received two tests that were stashed out on the front deck of my parent’s house (so we could be contactless in the exchange.)
We all gathered around the kitchen counter to figure out how to perform the test. After several arguments broke out and settling on the proper way to perform the tests and fifteen minutes of waiting, one of the tests showed that COVID had indeed crept into our house. Thus, dispelling any thoughts of ‘well maybe we are immune or something.’
I thank the gods that I could get everyone in my family vaccinated because I am pretty sure that things would be going much worse for us if we had not.
Within a few hours, every household member seemed to become sick. We all became congested, with a fantastic headache and sore throats, some loss of the sense of smell and taste, full-body aches like one would associate with bad flu, and tiredness that told us all there was something wrong. None of us had much of a fever, the worst being 99.1 degrees or so, but all complained of cold spells. There were some remarkably vivid dreams that everyone in my family reported
I had some more severe lung issues, as I have had COPD-like symptoms since my early twenties. But nothing that a few extra hits of my existing inhalers didn’t help. Some Advil and sleep, and we all seemed to be on the mend--Well enough that I am writing about it today a couple of days later.
I fear to think of what things may have been like if we had not been fully vaccinated.
I implore those of you that may have felt that COVID was just a hoax and held off on getting vaccinated to do so now before it tears through your own home. It hit my family with astonishing speed. We all seem to be recovering just as fast. But the data released across the state (and the nation) suggests that we may be some of the lucky ones.