Oklahoma mom shares experience of toddler with cerebral palsy who tests positive for COVID-19

Three-year old Lincoln Pool recently tested positive for COVID-19. Doctors say she was more susceptible to the virus because her immune system has been compromised by cerebral palsy and epilepsy. Courtesy photo

CLAREMORE, Okla. — A Northeast Oklahoma mom said it felt like "a punch in the gut" when she learned her 3-year-old immunocompromised daughter had tested positive for COVID-19.

She said they had taken every precaution because they know their family is part of the vulnerable population. But on April 28, Lincoln Pool started coughing.

"It was nothing very concerning until bedtime when her cough turned into more of a bark, and she started coughing a lot more," mom Lauren George said.

She and the rest of the family are no strangers to navigating the unexpected, as Lincoln's diagnosis of cerebral palsy and epilepsy have thrown a fair share of curveballs.

"The next day, she woke up with a low-grade fever and an awful cough. I called the pediatrician and they wanted to see her. We went in and her right lung was full of pneumonia," George said.

She learned the pediatrician didn't offer COVID-19 testing, so she took Lincoln to the University of Oklahoma for a drive-thru test.

"Friday, May 1, we went to Lincoln's test at 8:55 a.m., which was a very eerie experience. There was a police checkpoint, a password to get through, all of the PPE," she recalled.

The weekend came and went with no word from the health department.

"OU said results would be in 24-72 hours and that the state would call me. I call Tulsa Health Department, who informed me they do nothing over the weekend," George said. "This is mind-blowing to me. We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. I expect testing and results to be happening around the clock."

They returned to the pediatrician because Lincoln's breathing seemed worse, but her chest X-ray was the same as Thursday. Tuesday was more of the same — no word, no change in symptoms.

"Wednesday, May 6, I was awoken by a call from the state epidemiologist's office. They wanted to do tracing and go over all of Lincoln’s symptoms because there are so few kids that have been tested, so this is still very new to them as well. They informed me the state had her results Tuesday morning, so I still don’t understand why we weren’t called Tuesday morning," she said. "We were advised to isolate and continue isolating until 14 days have passed since her last symptom, which has yet to happen. We were also told if anyone else in our home starts to experience symptoms, it’s OK to assume we are positive and we aren’t required to be tested."

'My stomach sank'

George described the entire testing process as frustrating.

"My family specifically was unaffected by the time it took because we’re fortunate enough to not need to leave, but I can’t imagine being in a household where people have to leave for work. Your life is quite literally on hold," she said.

George said the positive diagnosis came as a blow because the family has been diligent in practicing social distancing, staying home and adhering to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.

"We’ve done everything we’re supposed to be doing, and having two immunocompromised kids makes us much more careful in general, so my stomach sank," she said.

She added that it was disheartening to share the news with her family, including her three sons.

"The boys understand quite a bit. Of course, coronavirus is new, but the concept of 'don’t be in Sissy’s face or get close because it’s sick season' is not. Our 4-year-old keeps asking if corona season will ever end, though, so he’s struggling with being cooped up at home," George said.

George said she's struggling to deal with misinformation and people who don't take coronavirus seriously.

"My message is that coronavirus may not affect you, but it could mean death for your neighbor. Coronavirus will probably look like a mild cold for me, but it could mean death for my grandpa," she said. "Wear a mask, wash your hands."

George said she's seen what a fighter Lincoln is, so she's optimistic about the outcome of this positive test result.

"We’re treating the pneumonia with breathing treatments as needed, but there’s no current at-home treatment for coronavirus," she said. "Lincoln has stayed in good spirits 90% of the time, and I anticipate that she will be able to fully recover at home. She's a tough girl."

Cydney Baron is the editor for The Claremore Progress, a CNHI LLC publication.