‘It was pretty devastating’: First-time NC parents battle COVID while caring for newborn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46) – Having a baby is normally exciting and stressful, but when one or both parents test positive for COVID-19, bringing a child into the world can be terrifying.

That’s what happened to one North Carolina family when and Jon Eric Johnson tested positive for COVID-19 a day before his daughter’s birth.

“It was pretty devastating,” said Jon Eric.

Jon Eric planned to be by his wife’s side during the birth of their first child but less than 24 hours before his wife Jordan was scheduled to deliver, he was tested for COVID.

“I woke up with chills and a sore throat and I knew something was wrong,” Jon Eric said.

He tested positive. Jordan tested negative before going to the hospital but tested positive the day before she and their new daughter Olivia were discharged from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center.

“I know she was really nervous but also wanted to take care of Olivia in the best way possible,” Jon Eric said.

Doctors said because Jon Eric was more symptomatic, he was likely more contagious. So, Olivia and Jordan went to her parents house.

“I would go everyday and look at her through the glass door and I’d call Jordan on the phone so I could hear her,” Jon Eric recalled.

Jordan wore a mask nearly 24 hours a day, only taking it off to eat, shower and brush her teeth.

Early in the pandemic, COVID positive moms and babies were separated but that’s not the protocol anymore.

“The data has really shown that whether a baby is in the same room versus a different room in the same household, the risk is the same and so it’s just important for people to take precautions,” Div. Chief of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Atrium Health, Dr. Ngina Connors said.

Dr. Connors’ team takes care of high risk pregnancies, which includes COVID cases.

“We wear our highest level of protection,” Connors said. “We do have a separate operating suite that she goes into and we have special filters that decrease the risk of transmission.”

Dr. Connors says contracting COVID in the womb is extremely rare. Babies are more likely to contract COVID after birth. Fortunately, Olivia never got sick.

Novant Health Hospital system tells FOX 46 that it has had five COVID positive babies out of 259 moms. None have been symptomatic for the virus.

Seventy-nine percent of the COVID positive moms were asymptomatic. Only 21 percent displayed symptoms.

Meantime, the Johnson’s are now together and healthy, but Jon Eric says it’s an experience no family should have to go through.

“Be safe,” he says. “You know, take the precautions. You don’t want to risk your health or your baby’s health.”