Our COVID cocoon: The parents aren't alright (but help may be coming)

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HELENA — My unvaccinated 7-year-old son began hacking and sneezing in late September as the hospitals in our home state of Montana started buckling under the latest COVID surge. I took him to get tested when his symptoms wouldn’t go away.

The cotton swab went up his nostrils and Thomas bucked out of my lap with a mighty snort, nearly ripping the 6-inch swab from the pediatrician assistant’s fingers. It came out bent, but the sample was usable, and as she put it away, I asked a question to which I already knew the answer.

“So we’re in quarantine?” She nodded. It would take about 72 hours to get the results, she said.

The next day, 4-year-old twins Anna and Karen started coughing and sneezing like their brother. They were already under orders to stay home after being exposed to a COVID-positive classmate, but they, too, were slapped with a new quarantine while we waited for the test results.

We had already experienced two COVID quarantines and summer camp closures in August. In September, our family accomplished a new feat in our pandemic journey: The twins entered a quarantine within a quarantine, running simultaneously to their brother’s quarantine.

Remember those lockdowns that

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