By Debra Moore
Quincy resident Tonia Sherman is telling her family’s coronavirus story about a month after they emerged from quarantine.
“If I could save people from some anxiety, I thought I should come forward,” Tonia said. Ultimately nine members of her family tested positive for the virus and for the most part, their symptoms were mild.
It all started back on Nov. 9 and 10. That’s when Tonia’s 23-year-old daughter, Jasmine, thinks she contracted the virus. Jasmine worked those two days as a nurse’s aide at the North Fork clinic building on the Plumas District Hospital campus.
On Wednesday, Nov. 11, Jasmine went on a family fishing trip to Fort Bragg. “There were five of us in the car,” Tonia said — herself, husband Mike, Jasmine and daughters Autumn, 19, and Ruby, 17.
Unknowingly they were a “Covid petri dish,” Jasmine said. “We were laughing, singing; we had the best time ever” during the five-hour drive to Fort Bragg.
The Sherman family spent three days fishing, eating out and spending time together, before heading home on Saturday. “Sometime during that trip Jasmine learned that someone tested positive at North Fork,” Tonia said.
The group arrived home Saturday night and planned a crab feed for that Sunday with other family members. The Sherman home is one of two on the property. The other belongs to her mom who is in her 80s. Tonia’s brother is currently living with his mother. The Shermans have also temporarily been hosting Tonia’s niece, her husband and two children.
“It’s been our pod,” Sherman said of the two households. That Sunday evening all attended except for Tonia’s mother who doesn’t eat fish.
On Monday, Jasmine went into work where she was promptly tested due to her exposure. They sent her home to await her test results. At the time Jasmine was experiencing some sinus pressure, but attributed it to the cold weather in Fort Bragg.
The test results came back positive Tuesday and all of the Shermans were scheduled to be tested at 4 p.m. that afternoon. They received the results Wednesday. Initially it was just the five who made the trip together that tested positive, but other family members followed in the ensuing days.
Tonia’s other daughter, Stephanie had visited the Sherman household the Monday night prior to the positive test results along with her two children. They subsequently tested negative, despite being in the household for at least a couple of hours.
“We all have had minor symptoms,” Tonia said, “and no one ever had a fever.”
So what were those symptoms? A little cough, sore throat, runny nose, and fatigue. Some, but not all of the family members lost their sense of taste and smell. Daughter Autumn said that she experienced “the worst headache of her life.” Tonia said her husband seemed to have the most mild of the symptoms, but he also experienced a very bad headache.
For Tonia, it was the fatigue that was the most unusual. As someone who typically sleeps just six hours a night, she slept for 12. “It was a weird kind of fatigue,” she said. “Our normal routine was very out of wack.”
During their bout with the virus, Tonia was most concerned for her mother, but as a former healthcare worker, she knew what to look for and monitored her mother’s oxygen levels. “They never got below 94,” she said, though her mother feared that she might die because in addition to her age, she was also a smoker and had major surgery back in February.
When asked what they took to fight the virus, Tonia listed high-quality zinc and Vitamins B and C; a tea tree-echinaeca throat spray; homeopathic teas; and chicken soup. “We treated it like the common cold,” she said.
Tonia said no one had much of an appetite for a few days, but when her mom started feeling better, she asked for a rib eye steak.
With the quarantine period behind them, Tonia and her husband donated blood during a recent drive. As part of the process, they were tested for antibodies and both had them. They plan to give blood again in March and are curious to see if there will still be antibodies present.
While it wasn’t pleasant, Tonia said they all survived and she hopes that sharing her family’s story will help other people who might contract the virus.