Not vaccinated, but cautious. Here’s our family’s story.


Editor’s note: The News + Record asked Josh Smith, who recently recovered from COVID-19, to share his experience.

Like the rest of the world, life changed in March 2020. This thing called COVID-19 put us all in quarantine. I was a little afraid of it, to be honest. Not so much for myself, but for my wife and especially my kids. What was it? Would we get it? Would it cost us our lives? These were all questions that I struggled with early on as we tried to learn more about COVID.

Our family personally knew some of the first people in North Carolina that got it. For some, it was flu-like. For one of my dear friends, it was 10 days in the hospital, and for much of that time, it was touch-and-go on whether he would survive.

Our family first got COVID in August 2020. My wife Amy had not been feeling well and went to the doctor where she tested positive. At that time, quarantine times were pretty long — up to 24 days — if you had been in direct contact. After talking with the health department, though I was feeling fine, I decided it would be best for me and our three kids to get tested.

The next day we all were tested. I tested positive, along with my 17-year-old. My 13-year-old and 7-year-old were negative. Let the quarantine time begin!

Mixed symptoms

For our family, Amy had it the worst. She had days of flu-like symptoms including, fevers, headaches and body aches, fatigue cough and a brief loss of taste. For my son and I, we had about a day and a half of being really tired, and then we were good. We had none of the “classic” symptoms of losing taste and smell, headaches, etc. Honestly, had it not been for Amy testing positive and feeling sick, we would have probably carried on with life as normal.

Speaking of normal, one of the most puzzling things about COVID for me is how it affects people differently and how some get it and some don’t. When Amy had been diagnosed, we did our best to quarantine her away from the rest of the family. When my son and I tested positive, we kind of accepted that our entire family would get it, considering our house is one level and at the time my boys shared a bedroom. We kind of took the thought of, “Since three of us have it, the other two are going to get it, so let’s get it over with.”

The strange thing is, it would be nearly a year later before my other two would ever get COVID. Because of this, we were in a study with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on household transmission. For six weeks through the fall of that year, we were tested and checked for antibodies. The results confirmed three of us had antibodies to COVID and had had it, and my two youngest had not.

Fast forward to July of this year where we have just finished off our second round with COVID. My wife and kids had gone to a family gathering for the Fourth of July and returned home with the new variant of COVID. From that gathering, over 20 members of Amy’s family have had it. Our personal experience this go around, along with the family members that got it, seems to confirm what most of the experts have said. This variant seems to be much more contagious, but the symptoms are far less severe. Most have described it as a bad cold with a few comparing it to the flu. Stuffy noses, cough, sore throats, fatigue and an occasional fever seem to be the symptoms that we had.

Not vaccinated

One of the common questions that I have been asked is “Are you vaccinated?” I am not. I am certainly not against anyone getting the vaccine and would probably encourage some with certain preexisting conditions to get it. Many of my family and friends have received it and I have no issue with that choice.

I do believe that each person should look at their personal health and make an educated decision based on their own health. I have been blessed to be fairly healthy and seemingly have a pretty robust immune system. Both times with COVID I have done well. Between that and the fact that it is impossible to know the long-term effects — if any — of the vaccines, I chose not to have one. But again, just as COVID affects different people in different ways, there is no one size fits all answer to best handle it.

I would encourage everyone to just use common sense. If you have been exposed to someone directly, consider getting tested. If you are sick, feel bad or have been exposed, be mindful of other people. While you may be able to handle the effects of COVID on your body, the person you come in contact with at the store or in the office may not be able to and it could have more serious effects on them. I would say be cautious, use lots of soap and water, but don’t be afraid. Life is too short to miss out on living life.