The NMDOH website is reporting the staggeringly high number of 574 COVID cases in Corrales as of November 24. Corrales COVID expert Fire Commander Tanya Lattin reports that November 2021 is on track to be the highest month ever for Corrales Covid cases, with 67 new cases so far. The highest case count in 2020 happened in December, when Corrales saw 69 cases.

Commander Lattin says, “Wednesday November 24, we had eight- new cases. Our five-day case rate has been outrageous, and I am, of course, expecting more after Thanksgiving.” When looking for reasons why Corrales is still experiencing so many COVID cases, it’s easy to point to pandemic fatigue, overcrowded bars and restaurants, or that stubborn anti-vaccine movement.

But there is another significant factor that can’t be ignored, adding to the case numbers and often spreading the virus silently, Corrales kids. Albuquerque Public Schools has been reporting a rise in case numbers that mirrors the swell in Corrales. The week of November 1five, 88 APS school sites reported 330 total cases, a number that has tripled since October.

Nationwide, that same week saw a 26 percent increase in pediatric COVID cases. “Kids’ numbers are going way up” Lattin says. Corrales parents are feeling the burden of the virus on so many levels.

Facing increased pressure to return to offices, many are frustrated when their child is sent home because a stuffy nose and upset tummy warrants a PCR test under COVID protocols. Even if a parent is lucky enough to get a same-day swab appointment for their child, that still amounts to at least three days of missed work and school, waiting for the test to come back.

And what if that test comes back positive?

Bri Smith lives in Corrales with her husband Matthew and their two children, Estella, 15, and Jackson, 12.  In October, the vaccinated family attended a baseball game, sitting near another vaccinated family who were unknowingly infected with asymptomatic COVID. Since they were outside, and more than three feet apart, the families decided not to wear masks.

When Matthew started to feel fatigue and cold-like symptoms a few days later, the family decided to get tested. Matthew’s initial home test was negative, but the PCR test he took came back positive. Bri also eventually tested positive and had cold-like symptoms. 12-year-old Jackson was asymptomatic but also tested positive. Estella never tested positive.

When asked how they felt as parents, after having a positive diagnosis, Bri answered, “We felt devastated. Covid was something we have been trying to avoid for the last year and a half. We were very worried that even though we were having mild symptoms (runny nose, headache, dry cough, slight chest pressure, and loss of smell), that our son would become ill. We credit the vaccines for our swift recovery and his lack of visible illness.”

Bri also says, “Luckily, we don’t know of any close contacts that developed Covid from us. That was guilt and stress that we were very concerned about. We believe that our breakthrough infection was unfortunate but avoidable. I encourage all that can, to get vaccinated and keep masking indoors and outside when social distancing isn’t an option.”

Another Corrales family went through a similar COVID-related ordeal. Ashley Trebitowski and her husband have three children, Cayden, 12, Jackson, ten and Reagan, seven, all living in Corrales.

Cayden caught Covid at school, from a vaccinated, asymptomatic friend with whom he shared a lunch period.

Following his infection, the two other Trebitowski children also tested positive for the virus, and had varying degrees of symptoms.

Ashley says: “I was nervous about our oldest because his heart rate was elevated and he had the worst symptoms. The other two seemed to fight it much easier. The biggest priority was staying hydrated and taking our vitamins, get lots of sunlight, and extra COVID protocol supplements. I’m not sure if they helped but we did everything we could to fight it from the inside.”

seven-year-old Regan, the youngest of Ashley’s children, experienced some bullying from another child at school. A little girl in her class said, “She has COVID, don’t touch her,” a discriminatory comment which hurt the young girl’s feelings.

When asked what advice Ashley would give other parents, she responds, “I very much believe that masks help stop the spread. The child that tested positive and spread it to my oldest had been around tons of kids those few days, he was most likely shedding the virus.”

Whether or not kids have symptoms, they are most certainly catching and spreading the virus.

Parents in our village are faced with very difficult Covid-related decisions, and with Santa Fe schools moving to some remote instruction this week because of rising Covid cases, they are left wondering when APS schools, including our own CES, might follow suit.

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