By CBSLA Staff

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — A Southland woman who had coronavirus and is still suffering symptoms, is warning others to be cautious, even if they’re just gathering within their small social groups.

“Talking is hard,” Kate Anthony told CBS2/KCAL9.

A mom from a northeast L.A. neighborhood, who after months of staying home decided to open up her social circle just a bit and allow her family to see the family of her very close friend through a so-called “quarantine bubble” or “pandemic pod,” is speaking out about her experience.

“(It was) within the family, ultimately. Like extended family. And that felt fine and safe… until it wasn’t,” Anthony said.

“Pandemic pods” are small groups of families who agree to follow health guidelines without seeing anyone else outside their group, and may even share homeschooling or daycare.

After Anthony ran a quick errand to the store with her friend, the next day, that friend called and said she felt sick.

Later, most of the pod ended up testing positive for coronavirus, including Anthony.

“Her whole family has it now. Four kids, her husband, all have it,” Anthony said.

Her symptoms were some of the tell-tale signs of coronavirus, including a persistent dry cough.

Other people who have been part of the “pandemic pods” have also reported catching the virus.

“I’ve had several phone calls about one kid in a pod, either the parents tested positive or the children tested positive,” said pediatrician Dr. Lauren Crosby.

Dr. Crosby said many of her patients are participating in these pods and believe that the benefits — like still socializing in-person with loved ones — outweigh the risks of contracting coronavirus. 

“The socialization of kids, learning to interact with each other the give and take the back and forth — it’s important for them. It is. But you just really have to do it in a very careful way,” Dr. Crosby said.

Absolute trust and honest communication are essential she says for people who are part of small groups that opt to gather exclusively during the pandemic.

“Every family really has to follow the same rules. You should even have them all written out. Have everybody sign or agree,” Dr. Crosby suggested. “They have to be people that you really trust, that you really are willing to share you know intimate details about where you go and what you do and who else you’re around.”

For some families, seeing other people or creating a pod is a necessity, but Anthony’s message now is that if you can, stay at home and stay away from other people.

“Pandemic fatigue and lockdown fatigue and all of that… and I’m just here to say, please don’t take risks,” Anthony said.

Anthony still has symptoms of the virus but says her friends’ family is now on the mend after their illness.

Pods are not for everyone, especially for people with high-risk family members, Dr. Crosby said.

With cases climbing quickly, the risk of contracting coronavirus does increase, even while being careful.

The best way to greatly reduce risk she says it to stay home with your family.