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When Your Child Has COVID-19: An Aspen Mom Shares Her Story

Mar 25, 2020

Shea Sweeney and her sons Kiernon (left) and Roan (right) pose with their cat Bagel.
Credit Courtesy Shea Sweeney

Shea Sweeney is a single mom of two in Aspen. Her 13-year-old son came down with a fever and a cough last Tuesday. A video call with a doctor ended with a diagnosis, and they’ve been isolated ever since.

How did this all start? What was the process like, seeing symptoms in your son and then getting him diagnosed?

So I called my doctor that we've been going to here and set up an appointment. They sent me an email to do a login for a virtual appointment. And then the next day we had the computer interview with my doctor, face-to-face on the computer. She saw him, he was next to me and we talked it through. 

She was pretty positive that he had it, even though there's no tests available in the valley. She also told me that he was low risk with his age and she was just almost a hundred percent positive that's what he had, especially given his age group. She also said that, because he's younger, the symptoms aren't as severe as a regular flu. So that was even more evidence that he probably had COVID-19.

Is it frustrating not being able to get him tested so you can know for certain that he’s positive?

I would love to have been able to be tested and to find out. But given the circumstances, there's no tests. We erred on the side of caution and stayed home, and we're isolating for 14 days.

What’s it like being at home taking care of a sick kid and also having to keep some distance so you can keep yourself healthy? 

It goes against all of your parenting love and support. So you can't go over to him and hug him because you're afraid that you'll get any virus germs on your body and then bring it out into the rest of the house. And then, what if I touched my other son?

So it's really, really bizarre, and it feels awful as a parent to not be able to hug your child. It's a weird feeling of being worried constantly, thinking that if I got it, what would happen if I had to go to the hospital and leave my kids here as a single parent? All these awful things go flying through your head, but he seems much healthier. We seem healthy. So we're just hoping to get through these 14 days.

How have you been passing the time during your quarantine?

There's a lot of YouTube going on. There's a lot of Netflix, a lot of Hulu. We do try to have family movie nights. We have been trying to do that. I'm trying to get them outside to exercise a little bit. You know, shutting down the computers and the phones and giving them a little bit of a brain break.

What would you say to other parents who are worried about their own kids maybe coming down with this?

Even if they're playing outside, kids have no idea about social distancing. They have no idea what six feet means. They touch everything; they touch each other constantly. So it was just really stressful and worrisome to have a child that came down with it. And I wouldn't wish that on any parent to have to worry and wonder if they're going to be a severe case or if they're going to give it to someone else in the family. So just the biggest number one thing I can say is stay at home.