skip to main content
caption: Jim Guerber with his son Holden at Children's Hospital in Seattle last month. Holden was sick with Covid-19.
Enlarge Icon
Jim Guerber with his son Holden at Children's Hospital in Seattle last month. Holden was sick with Covid-19.
Credit: Courtesy of Noel Frame

My 1-year-old son got Covid, then so did we. Here’s what I want you to know

Noel Frame is a Democratic lawmaker in Washington state, representing parts of Seattle. Last month, her 1-year-old son got Covid-19. She told KUOW's Kim Malcolm her story.

W

e had just celebrated his first birthday. We were down at grandma's house, and he was vomiting quite a bit.

He woke up Sunday morning with a snotty nose, as infants, or early toddlers often do. We didn’t think a ton of it but took him to school the next day.

I said, "Is it okay to drop him off? He hasn’t been feeling great." They said, “There are several kids with snotty noses, Noel. It’s OK.”

But later in the day, we got called to say, “Your son is feeling really bad today. And we think that you should come pick him up.”

Out of an abundance of caution, we didn't even go home. We went straight to the Covid testing site on the way home from daycare, got tested, and about 26 hours later had a positive test result for my son, and a negative test result for myself.

I panicked. I was really scared. We had our son during the pandemic, and were vaccinated, and felt like we had done everything we needed to do to protect ourselves. My instant thought went to, “What have I done?” and “My poor baby,” and “What long term effects is he gonna have from this?”

We called his pediatrician immediately. We were supposed to go in two days later for his one-year appointment and had to cancel that and ask for guidance. They said that if we were concerned, to take him to urgent care, which we did.

He had severe congestion, was coughing a lot, and had lots of mucus. They took chest X-rays looking for what they called “Covid pneumonia.” That confirmed that he didn't have pneumonia, but definitely did have a version of bronchitis.

They gave us guidance about what to look for if he was struggling with his breathing, where we could see in his belly if he was breathing in hard. They mentioned a home oximeter, a little device you get at the drugstore to test his blood oxygen levels. If his levels dropped to 95 or below, and we saw the belly breathing, we should take him to the emergency room.

And that's what happened 24 hours later.

He was just miserable. He was still vomiting; he couldn’t keep anything down. He was severely congested, and having a hard time breathing. He was very lethargic and sleeping a lot. We kept checking that oximeter, which for babies you put on their big toe, because they won't keep it on their finger.

We were checking his oxygen level, and when it got to 95, we started packing up. Within 30 minutes, we were ready to walk out the door. We checked that home oximeter again, and he had dropped to 88.

We went as fast as we could up to the Seattle Children's Hospital emergency department.

They suctioned the mucus out, and they put him on an IV to tank him up with fluids, as they said, because he was so severely dehydrated. They gave us an option to admit him but said that if we did what they suggested, they thought he'd be OK at home.

We went home, and within a day or two, he started to improve, and within a week was outside of that Covid 14-day window. He kicked butt; he did great and seems to have fully recovered.

I was very pleased with how quickly the daycare responded — getting the word out and following the public health guidelines to close. The infant and the toddlers rooms were closed, I think 12 or 13 full days with the weekends.

Our theory is that [our son got Covid at daycare] based on the timing of the symptoms on where he was. But nobody else at daycare tested positive, and no one else around us tested positive.

And then, my husband and I got positive test results for Covid, even though we’d been fully vaccinated.

We had very mild symptoms. My husband was essentially asymptomatic. I had what really felt like seasonal allergies — nasal drip, a little bit of a sore throat that eventually developed into some mild congestion, but for all intents and purposes, it just felt like a regular cold.

We're really grateful to have had the vaccination and definitely felt like it worked, which was a very different experience from our small child, who obviously couldn't be vaccinated and had a more severe response to it.

It's always scary for a parent when your child gets sick. Thankfully, he wasn't intubated; he didn't have to be admitted; we paid attention.

For parents, my guidance is don't ignore what looks like a regular childhood cold as just a cold; take them to get tested. The testing is free. It's drive-through. Maybe get a little home box oximeter that you can get from the drugstore. It's a fairly inexpensive medical device.

A runny nose is a symptom of Covid, particularly the Delta variant. It’s better to get tested than to not know.

— Noel Frame

The transcript from this interview was edited for length and clarity.