Gail Cunningham is not a big follower of the news, but she knows about the coronavirus pandemic.
Not only has it changed how the day care director operated Young World Day Care in Clinton, she has closed the facility until at last April 15 after one of her employees tested positive for the fast-spreading respiratory virus.
Now her own father has been hospitalized and put on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19.
In a video she posted to Facebook on Friday, she said she has been following the directions of state agencies throughout the process, going back to when the employee started showing mild symptoms and began staying home.
The positive test result came back Tuesday. Cunningham said the state Department of Health and Environmental Control told her the day care should inform the parents of the children in the affected classroom that an employee had tested positive and suggest that they should look at self-isolating and possibly getting tested.
“I did not feel that was quite enough,” she said.
After quickly but quietly informing her employees about the decision to temporarily close, the office staff began calling parents individually to tell them what was happening.
It wasn’t long into the process that parents flooded the day care’s phone with calls after seeing a Facebook post about the positive result. Cunningham acknowledged getting criticism for not having an email list or an automated call system to inform parents simultaneously.
After what became a long, chaotic day, she did a virtual doctor’s visit for her parents — her mom also works at Young World — and was quickly told her mom did not need testing as she did not have symptoms.
“While I am entering information, my dad is sitting over here and he’s shivering — shivering out of his skin,” she said.
He had a 100.4 temperature. Cunningham shared that information and was told to get him to Laurens County Memorial Hospital as soon as she could. Staff members were waiting for him at the entrance and took him in, telling them to wait outside.
Within hours, they learned he had tested positive.
“Right then, our whole world changed,” she said.
She said he was in isolation and on a ventilator at the Laurens hospital, while she and her mom are both in self-solation. Since dropping her father off, Cunningham said they’ve only been able to see him through FaceTime.
“It’s just so much to deal with in a matter of days,” she said.