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Simon Says | Laura shares her COVID experience after breakthrough case

My hope in sharing this is if we all take precautions, and do the things we can control, we will be out of this pandemic soon.

ROGERS, Ark. — My first Simon Says of 2022 starts with a COVID-19 diagnosis.  

Some of you may know by now, I started the New Year testing positive for COVID-19. 

As a journalist, it’s my mission to be transparent with you, the viewers. It’s also my goal to debunk misinformation with credible research, sources and facts. 

From the bottom of my heart, I want to thank everyone who sent me supportive messages these past couple of weeks.  

Without further delay, here is my experience with COVID.

As you probably know by now, we are seeing record COVID-19 case numbers across the state and nation. 

My husband Phillip and I thought we were doing everything we were supposed to be doing and taking the proper precautions. We still wear masks in crowded places, we wash our hands all the time, take our vitamins, etc.  

Phillip and I got two doses of the Pfizer vaccine back in April.

On Dec. 23, we went out to dinner with some friends who are all fully vaccinated and boosted. 

We were scheduled to get our booster shots the week after Christmas, which we found out last week the FDA is now recommending the Pfizer booster five months after the second dose, not six months. We were nervous about the potential side-effects impacting our busy work schedules, which is why we scheduled our boosters the week after Christmas.  

This is where I guess you could say we had a bit of bad luck.  

On Christmas Day, we found out one of our boosted friends we had dinner with tested positive for COVID-19.

My husband was having some allergy-like symptoms when he woke up that morning, and to be honest, we really didn't think much of it. We weren't around this friend for a very long time. 

I got my booster on Monday, Dec. 27 as scheduled. Then the next day, the allergy symptoms for my husband turned to more cold-like symptoms, so we went to get him a PCR test. They told us the results would take at least 24 hours. Throughout that Tuesday, Dec. 28, his symptoms started getting worse. So I went to the drugstore and got some at-home test kits. We each took one. I tested negative, but my husband was positive. 

Up until that moment, we had been sharing food and drinks and around each other sans masks, so I figured I was more than likely going to get infected. 

In my experience, I felt like the booster and my immune system were working hard to fight off whatever I was exposed to. Phillip and I tried to isolate ourselves as best we could. I slept on an air mattress and kept every surface disinfected, while he was in bed with a fever. 

I'm glad I was able to take care of him that day, which was probably his worst day of symptoms. He had chills, night sweats, body aches and congestion. His fever got up to 102 and near the end, he lost taste and smell for a few days.

That night when trying to sleep, I had a headache and a stuffy nose, and I thought I had COVID at this point. The next morning, Dec. 29, I went to the same drive-thru testing site and received a PCR test. Later that day, Phillip’s results came back saying what we already knew, he was positive for the virus.

My results came back the day before New Year's Eve --- negative. I couldn’t believe it. Thursday through Sunday, Jan. 2, I was feeling fine. I even ran a couple of miles on New Year's Day. But later on Jan. 2, my stuffy nose was back. 

Otherwise, I was doing okay. I took an at-home test that afternoon just to make sure I was good to go back to work, and it was positive

I was bummed but not too surprised. 

A COVID specialist told my friend who's also a journalist it was their experience a lot of people who have had a COVID exposure test negative in the beginning, and then they get a positive result later. 

I took a PCR test the next day in hopes of confirming my home-test result, but it was inconclusive.

The bottom line is I was having congestion, fatigue and headaches, which are all symptoms of COVID-19. And again, my at-home antigen test was positive. 

It’s my company's policy (TEGNA) to stay home for 10 days after a positive test result. 

Monday, Jan. 3 was my worst day of symptoms, where I had so much congestion it was uncomfortable to get to sleep. I had a few more days of headaches, fatigue and a stuffy nose. 

I’m giving you all these details to say I’m grateful I was able to recover at home. Before COVID, I think a lot of us would go to work with these cold-like symptoms. I know I have.  

The omicron variant is very contagious. While I’ve seen people double down on their skepticism of vaccines, new research out of the UK shows that if you have two doses of the Pfizer vaccine, your risk of hospitalization is reduced by 65%. If you have a booster, your risk of hospitalization is reduced by more than 80%.  

Omicron can cause more "mild” symptoms than the delta variant, but it's still a serious infection, especially for people who are unvaccinated. The reality is people are still dying from the virus in this omicron wave. 

If you still have questions about getting the vaccine—talk with your doctor. The majority of ICU beds are still being filled with unvaccinated people. 

Here in Arkansas, we hit daily case counts Friday, Jan. 7, and Saturday, Jan. 8, with more than 8,000 new cases in a single day. Those are our latest pandemic records. 

A lot of doctors believe we could reach a peak as early as this week with omicron, and we could be in a better situation by the end of the month. That’s still to be determined. 

The purpose of this edition of Simon Says is to encourage you to take care of yourself and your family. 

Exercise. Eat more whole foods than processed foods, and get enough sleep. 

Hopefully, if we all take precautions, and we do the things we can control, we will be out of this pandemic soon. 

Wishing all my readers, listeners and viewers a safe, healthy and COVID-free 2022. 

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