Video: The Downes Family Recovers From COVID-19 | Coronavirus | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Video: The Downes Family Recovers From COVID-19


Published April 23, 2020 at 6:04 p.m.

The Downes family did everything right, and then everything went wrong. Keith and Michelle live on the top floor of a duplex in Burlington with their 5-year-old twins, Felix and Kermit. Keith’s mother, Sharon, also known as Mimi, lives on the bottom floor with a roommate who helps around the house. Sharon lost her voice box due to throat cancer five years ago, and her roommate Chris makes phone calls for her.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the family went into lockdown. Keith was particularly worried about his 81-year-old mother catching the virus, so they stayed away from Sharon — even though this was hard for all involved. Chris is a veteran who works on a contract for the Vermont National Guard and had to leave the home to do his job. At the end of March, Chris got sick with flu-like symptoms and locked himself in his room. A few days later, Sharon started feeling tired. Then Keith began to feel ill, followed by Michelle. In early April, their son Kermit became unwell, and Sharon brought Chris to the hospital when his symptoms became more severe.

None of them were able to get tested then for the coronavirus. Chris was finally able to get a test in White River Junction at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. On April 6, Chris’ test came back positive for COVID-19. Chris was hospitalized twice and moved into a hotel to quarantine. Keith and his mother were granted tests at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, due to their close contact with Chris. Out of the entire family, Keith’s symptoms were the most severe. He was exhausted, lost his appetite and had a lingering hacking cough. Less than a week later, the results came back: Sharon and Keith were positive for COVID-19.

Sharon’s symptoms were minimal: a low-grade fever and exhaustion. Michelle and the boys were already feeling better. After weeks of staying apart in order to protect Sharon, the family was finally able to come together to celebrate Easter. The one silver lining to this experience was that they all had the coronavirus together. Read the cover story about the Downes family by Courtney Lamdin here.