“The timing was just right. You kind of felt like that interview spoke to me,” Fonville said. “And I called here and was able to kind of get in class and get started.”
Fonville is now a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for foster children in Jackson County. As a former foster child, he said he hopes he can not only help with the need, but also show kids he understands.
“When you’re in a system, it’s hard to really trust people, and then when you have somebody who constantly see you could trust, you start to open up more,” Fonville said.
Angie Blumel, the President and CEO of Jackson County CASA, said reports of child abuse remain low and steady since their first numbers in March. She expects the number to rise once children begin seeing doctors and teachers again. She said there are many children in desperate situations during the stay-at-home order.
“While calls are down, we know that abuse and neglect is still happening,” Blumel said. “We’re trying to prepare for that time when, again, children are back in the community, and we’re seeing more instances of abuse and neglect being reported, and we’re seeing more kids come into care.”
The organization shifted all of their training online. Meetings are done on Zoom along with individual home study. Fonville hopes his decision to help inspires others.
“Doing everything virtually… it really was convenient,” Fonville said. “So anybody out there that has a full time job and has a family, I can tell you that you can get this done.”
If you are interested in becoming a CASA, you can find resources for Missouri here, and for Kansas here.
Jackson County’s reopening kicked in Monday, and for many shops, salons and restaurants, the lights are back on.
Going to the salon is usually exciting, and for Joi Seese, she’s been looking forward to it a little more this time.
“I didn’t really know what to expect,” Seese said. “But once I got here, I was very impressed with how they have it set up and how things are going.”
Posh Hair Salon is open for business and taking precautions. They’re asking clients to wait in their cars instead of their waiting area. Stylists are wearing face shields and requiring clients to wear masks. They’re also telling people if you feel sick — you need to stay home.
Owner Tiffany Juarez was nervous about reopening.
“The shield’s a little different,” Juarez said. “The masks are a little different. But other than that, it’s just you and your client and back to normal seeing their faces again, making them beautiful again. It feels great.”
Across town, you can finally sit down and eat at Pearl Tavern for the first time in quite a while.
“It has been beyond challenging. It really has,” owner Andy Lock said.
When you step into the restaurant, you’ll notice a lot of differences. There’s blue tape on the tables, marking out spaces for social distancing. There ‘s hand sanitizer at the door, and all the employees are wearing masks.
There are no menus on the table, and nothing else for that matter. Things like salt and pepper, or any other condiments, are given upon request. Menus can be viewed on the customer’s phone, or the restaurant will provide a disposable paper one.
Lock said during the stay-at-home order they had to get creative.
“We can be a better restaurant group coming out the back side for sure that we were coming in the front side,” Lock said. “So if we can be safer and better, have better menus and better food quality, then we think that we’ll be just fine in the long term, but it’s going to be a challenge.”
“We’re all here because we feel safe, you know,” Juarez said. “So I think that’s the consensus I feel today. We all feel safe.”
Only about half of the stores in the downtown Lee’s Summit area were open Monday. Many restaurants and coffee shops are still offering carry out for now.
The Federal Trade Commission is calling out three local wellness clinics over claims about COVID-19 treatments.
The FTC said the clinics advertised specific IV treatments online with unproven claims, but all three clinics said that wasn’t their intent.
The FTC’s Southwest Region office told Epigenics Healing Center, Revive & Rally Health Lounge and McDonagh Medical Center to stop.
The letters to all three state it is unlawful to advertise treatments that have no known studies on the treatments and if they are effective with COVID-19.
Dr. Dana Hawkinson, an infectious disease doctor with the University of Kansas Health System, said the only known way to prevent COVID-19 is by washing your hands, not touching your face and not going out when you’re sick
“There is no approved and really nothing that has been proven to prevent or to treat coronavirus infection,” Hawkinson said.
The treatments listed in the letters vary from high doses of vitamin C IV infusions, ultraviolet blood therapy and hyperbaric oxygen.
Dr. Jay Goodbinder practices naturopathic medicine. He posts frequently on his business Facebook page about the pandemic and different studies, both peer-reviewed and not, that discuss COVID-19 and possibilities to treat them. He also offers high dose vitamin C IV treatments.
The Federal Trade Commission noted several posts that Goodbinder has since taken down.
He is quoted as saying “IV vitamin C in high doses are [sic] knocking covid 19 out in wuhan China. Come get yours at the Epigenetics Healing Center asap,” in a post from March 17.
In another, they quote him as saying, “Dr. Enqiang Mao, chief of emergency medicine at Ruijin Hospital, Shanghai, stated that his group treated ~50 moderate to severe cases of COVID-19 infection with high dose intravenous vitamin C. ‘The IVC dosing was for 7-10 days, with 10,000 mg for moderate cases and 20,000 mg for more severe cases. ‘All patients who received intravenous vitamin C improved, and there was no mortality.”
Goodbinder said the comments were taken out of context.
“That was an unfortunate use of words. I mean I was just, I was paraphrasing what the paper said. I would, didn’t just say that,” Goodbinder said. “I was saying this is what’s happening in Wuhan, China. This is the work they use.”
He said he hasn’t treated any patient who has COVID-19 and believes vitamin C is not a preventative measure for the virus, but a general health boost you can take to assist your immune system.
He said he doesn’t believe vitamin C can cure the coronavirus.
“That’s not at all what I’m trying to say,” Goodbinder said. “I don’t think I ever said that. I think what I’m trying to say is vitamin C can boost your immune system and help you to stay healthy.”
Dr. Rahul Kapur owns the Revive & Rally Health Lounge in KCMO. He’s also a doctor at North Kansas City Hospital and currently treating patients with COVID-19.
When he received the letter from the FTC, he said he understood why he got it, but it was a misunderstanding.
“Unfortunately, the wording sort of looked like I was saying I had the treatment for COVID-19 or that vitamins treat COVID-19. That was not the intent of the blog at all,” Kapur said. “
But you know, it’s put together by by somebody who runs my website, not medical, and I refer to a study that is being done in China, about IV vitamin C, but it’s not peer-reviewed.”
Kapur said the letter refers to a blog post on the Revive & Rally website that has since been taken down.
However, on the business’ Facebook page and his personal Twitter account at the time of this article, there were still several posts regarding high-dose vitamin C IV treatments.
One post says, “Are you worried about the coronavirus? There is so much misinformation out there, we are sharing facts.” “We know high doses of vitamin C given by IV over one hour will boost your immunity. We recommend our high-dose vitamin C IV bag.”
“We offer no treatment for COVID-19,” Kapur said. “These are just general measures that I think improve metabolic health of everybody. And I think everyone would benefit from these measures. I’ve seen better outcomes and people who have optimal vitamin levels and optimal hormone levels in the long run.”
KU Health System’s Hawkinson said vitamins are generally good, but vitamin C IV treatments may not be needed to boost your immune system. Adding it into your diet should be enough.
“Do we know that having adequate amounts of these vitamins in your body is healthy? Absolutely,” Hawkinson said. “But there are limits. Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin. Once your body has enough of that, all you do is urinate it out anyway, so you’re not really storing it up.”
McDonagh Medical Centers in Gladstone also received a letter from the FTC. They quote several posts made to the medical center’s Facebook page that have now been edited.
The letter says their treatment claims go beyond IV therapy, but offer ozone therapy, ultraviolet blood therapy and hyperbaric oxygen therapy.
One post on their Facebook page read: “Exciting news coming out of China! IV ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is being studied in Wuhan University’s Zhongnan Hospital in a prospective study on COVID patients. The experimental group will receive 24 grams of vitamin C IV in divided doses daily over 7 days.
“Fred Klenner, MD was not shy about using 40-50 grams/day or more, but this is significantly more than NY hospitals have been using during this pandemic (1.5 grams IV 3 times daily). Still, this is encouraging news!… McDonagh Medical Center offers Vitamin C IV, among many other modalities. Call or e-mail to ask questions or set up an appointment!”
Another stated: “COVID-19 update: McDonagh Medical Center offers many anti-viral modalities including IV ozone therapy, ultraviolet blood therapy, high dose IV vitamin C, and hyperbaric oxygen. Dr Wennerstrom was trained by Robert Rowen, MD in ozone therapies, the author of this 2 min video and of multiple ozone specific journal publications.”
The medical center is headed by Dr. Carey Wennerstrom. She works as a physician at the center and with the United States Air Force National Guard in St. Joseph.
The letter refers to statements that she was trained by Dr. Robert Rowen, and it quotes Wennerstrom referring readers to a YouTube video where he states, “ozone will oxidize it [COVID-19] and render it inactive.”
Wennerstrom declined a request for an interview, but did provide a statement in regards to the FTC document:
“I am in FTC compliance. My clinic is on the frontlines and I have experience treating COVID patients. I look forward to treating more as I am here for the patients. I have even treated military members for free. The day after the warning letter was issued, and following a few minor edits to my social media posts, the FTC notified me I am in compliance.
“As a dually board certified physician in family and integrative medicine, I have helped many patients. Some of those patients have COVID-19. I am also a member of the USAF Guard and have treated military members for free in recent weeks. I have my patients’ best interest at heart and look forward to the opportunity to treat more. My clinic is open 6 days per week to better accommodate patients’ schedules.”
Hawkinson said while some treatments may seem different or unique, there’s a reason they may not be widely adopted at large hospitals.
“People really harp on Big Pharma or the pharmaceutical industry because they want to make money,” Hawkinson said.
“But if you look at it from the flip side, if these things really worked, do you not think that big pharma or the pharmaceutical companies would be making them and patenting them because they can make money.”
Hawkinson said when people are worried about contracting a virus or any ailment, they will do things to help prevent it.
He said it’s best to make sure the treatment you’re seeking does what is advertised and won’t harm you.
“It’s really important to note that we all want a treatment or a preventive measure, but unfortunately right now, there’s really nothing that has been proven to do that,” Hawkinson said. “In fact, some of these even common household or over-the-counter drugs or medications or supplements can actually be harmful.”
All three owners said they have already complied with the Federal Trade Commission and either deleted or edited the wording they were warned about.
With businesses reopening soon and people start leaving their homes it may have you wondering about liability. FOX4 talked to a lawyer about personal injury during a pandemic.
Jason Moore is a founding partner and attorney at the DiPasquale Moore law firm in Kansas City.
“Businesses could very well face legal claims and consequences if people do get sick,” Moore said. “This is obviously an unprecedented time in our society. And so there’s, there’s more questions and there are answers.”
Moore says personal injury and wrongful death don’t change their definition when it comes to COVID-19.
“You never really know until you litigate, and the judge or the jury tells you whether it was reasonable or not, whether it was negligent or not,” Moore said. I think that no two situations are alike and I think we’re just going to have to wait and see.”
He says it all comes down to what the court finds reasonable. Moore says businesses businesses should at a minimum follow CDC guidelines, then use their best judgement to keep customers safe.
“It’s impossible to know whether or not what you’re doing is going to later on be deemed to be reasonable in hindsight, but you have to just make good judgment and good decisions, common sense decisions to do what’s right for your employees and your customers, your clients, etc,” Moore said. “And it’ll just be really interesting to see how all this turns out.”
He says common sense is the most important thing to keep liability at a minimum.
A cruise ship performer from the metro is thankful to be home after a two-month experience he never expected.
Willis White is no stranger to the stage. The singer, who’s performed on Broadway, now travels the world with Princess Cruises.
But at the end of February, his newest adventure took an unexpected turn.
“It’s a little bit surreal because you can’t believe the entire world is shutting down,” White said.
White said around March 10, passengers were able to disembark the ship, but he and other employees stayed on board.
“I did not feel unsafe on my particular vessel,” White said. “I felt safe, healthy, provided for, and I can say that unequivocally.”
He said there was anxiety, restlessness and uncertainty, but he used his time to work on projects.
For two months, he waited to come home and finally disembarked May 9. He said the process to get home was long, but once things were in place it was a quick process.
“There was an element of certainty,” White said. “That first time when I actually got on soil, touching the ground, a sense of finality, of like, ‘OK, it’s time to adjust to the new normal.’”
White said he’s grateful to be back in Kansas City but is thinking of his coworkers who are still waiting to come home. Some employees are still figuring out how to get back to their home countries and their ability to travel during the pandemic.
“I just want to tell them to stay encouraged,” White said. “I hope if anyone who has family members out there that are still waiting that possibly, you know, that they reach out to them. And you know, it does mean a lot to have that sense of connection.”
He said he believes the cruise industry will adjust and hopes to get back to entertaining travelers as soon as it’s safe.
“We’re all trying to make it through this and just sending a lot of love to anybody who just may be struggling, even here, domestically, as we are practicing the social distance, that we’re in this together,” White said.
He said when he got home, he was happy to sleep in his bed for about two days — and he’s looking forward to having some burnt ends soon.
Health experts say stopping the spread involves some detective work.
Contact tracing is the term, and the Kansas City Health Department is ready to hire some of those virus detectives.
To prevent people from getting the virus, the city is using a new strategy to hire people to trace it.
“The contact tracer is able to tie up those loose ends to make sure everyone is aware of their own health status and is aware of what they need to to to protect themselves and the ones they love,” health department investigator Laura Kresl said.
The city is looking to hire five contact tracers, and Mayor Quinton Lucas said it’s vital to getting the spread under control.
“Contact tracing is really vital to how you stop this,” Lucas said. “The biggest way you can stop any epidemic is to make sure you know who’s got it, and then you get them tested, you get them treated, and you make sure there is no spread.”
The positions are full time for three months and pay $18 per hour. The tracers will have the job of contacting those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus.
“These people will not know who named them, and the people who will be doing the contact tracing will have a great deal of HIPAA responsibility because they can’t give that information, they can’t breech it, or disrupt that trust in any way,” Kresl said.
The city’s 10/10/10 rule asks businesses to voluntarily make lists of people staying in their location longer than 10 minutes. The tracers will work with these lists and lists from patients that are seen at hospitals.
“It’s not about us knocking on your door and stopping anything,” Lucas said. “We’re trying to model good behavior for folks. There’s going to be a lot of compliance that we ask everybody to do voluntarily, no matter what it is. We ask people do that because it’s really concern for your community.”
Kresl said a major issue they are having at the health department is people who contracted COVID-19 not wanting to share where they have been or who they came into contact with.
The department said there are a number of reasons why, including privacy, possible undocumented individuals and people wanting to conceal where they have been to friends or family.
“Unfortunately, we are running into instances where people are refusing to name the people that they have been around,” Kresl said. “So once we know who the person has been around, we need to let everyone else know to monitor their symptoms.”
Lucas said it’s a great way for people to proactively help slow the spread and keep Kansas City moving forward.
“That’s the way as we live with COVID-19 that we’re actually going to find a way to really address it,” Lucas said. “If we didn’t have that, then we would be at a risk of shutting down the economy again, doing any of those calamitous things that I know absolutely nobody, including me, wants.”
If you are interested in learning more about this position or applying yourself, you can put in your application through the city’s employment portal.
Hy-Vee officials have announced a limit on meat purchases at all locations effective May 6 as the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on food processors across the Midwest.
“Due to worker shortages at plants as well as an increase in meat sales, customers may not find the specific items they are looking for,” the company announced in a statement. “Because of this, we are going to put a limit on customer purchases in the meat department.”
Customers will be limited to four packages of meat, including fresh beef, ground beef, pork and chicken.
“We continue to work with industry leaders so we are prepared for any possible fluctuations in product and can best serve our customers,” the company stated.
Jon McCormick, the president of the Retail Grocers Association of Kansas City, said demand is high, but right now supply is low.
“The meat packing plants, the pork production plants and the chicken production processors are all in a bind. I mean, when your workers have been tested with COVID, they’ve got to go home,” McCormick said.
“And there’s enough of them going home that it’s causing production problems, so it’s never good when your members retailers cannot get product.”
McCormick said this could be a sign of what’s to come. Right now people are purchasing in stores, but in a few weeks the supply will be more spread out.
“When when you have beef production down 37% and pork down 44% and thank goodness chicken is only down 9%, you have a problem,” McCormick said.
“And then when the restaurants open up, the problem is going to be exacerbated because right now their coolers are empty.”
He said no members of the Retail Grocers Association of Kansas City are limiting meat sales for now. That includes Price Chopper, Hen House, Sun Fresh and Cosentinos Markets to name a few. There are around 400 local stores in the association.
From restaurants to mom-and-pop shops, the county’s stay-at-home order has been lifted. Businesses around the town square are ready to get back to normal.
Closed is still the reality for some storefronts in Liberty, but others are so glad they’re finally able to say, “We’re open.” The sound of cash registers is music to their ears.
Petals & Potpourri sells home decor, artificial florals and pretty objects all around. Owner Amber Hinton said they’re working to make the customer’s experience as pleasant as their inventory.
“Whatever we can do to make people feel more comfortable — that’s what we’ll do,” Hinton said. “We are willing to do anything. They can call the store and shop over the phone. We’ll text pictures. They can shop online. They can shop in the store. We’re still offering curbside pickup, and we’re offering private appointments.”
The store was closed for six weeks, and in that time they were able to launch their online shop. Hinton said it’s something she’d wanted to do for a while, but quarantine was the push she needed.
“We just want to be here for our customers and provide a safe and clean, comfortable atmosphere where they feel safe coming in the store,” Hinton said. “It’s a lot of changing. We’re doing a lot of things that we’ve never done before, but we’re here for our customers.”
Down the street at Hammerhand Coffee, they’ve been open the whole time, but decided to keep doing business at the door.
“When you account for two employees and then a line of two or three people then we only have four seats,” owner Alex Merrell said. “So at that point it’s more difficult to allow people to be in here than to just take orders at the door.”
Merrell said business is going better than he thought it would be. Liberty is loyal and keeps coming back for another cup, he said.
However, the first day back was not without bumps — hail, rain and hours without power.
“It’s just another thing that happened that we have to get through and be prepared and get ready for expecting our customers here,” Montoya said.
La Costa Mexicana was hit hard for about two weeks because of the pandemic. Owner Angel Montoya said for a while he was worried, but orders slowly started coming in, and he saw a light at the end of the crisis.
“We are working with Door Dash and Grub Hub, doing all the delivery, a lot of curbside,” Montoya said. “People from Liberty are very generous and supporting us through this time.”
Montoya said he’s working with Clay County to make sure he’s in compliance with all of their guidelines. The restaurant is open for dine-in at 20% of its capacity. Delivery and curbside will still be available for those who continue to quarantine.
He said he’s looking forward to a full restaurant someday.
“Can’t wait for that. Can’t wait for us to have our regular business and see our customers, and help them inside the restaurant,” Montoya said. “I can’t wait for this to end and for us to go back to normal.”
About half of the stores on the square are open for business as of Monday. Some have notes on the door saying they plan to not open for at least a few more weeks.
While many are looking to get back to business, students are focusing on going back to school.
The fall may be months away, but planning for college takes time. We looked into what colleges are doing to adapt to their future post pandemic.
Metropolitan Community College Chancellor Kimberly Beatty said her school known for trade learning moved entirely online for the rest of the Spring 2020 semester.
“It was really amazing to see that we just kind of went ‘boom’ and pivoted, just pivoted quickly to accommodate the need,” Beatty said.
Community colleges offer gap-year learning
MCC and Johnson County Community College are booth looking to expand online. JCCC said their focus headed into the fall will primarily be online courses.
“All courses that can be offered in either a virtual (such as Zoom-led course) or online (traditional online, self-paced) format,” said Chris Gray, a representative for the college.
“The campus will plan to be open for courses in the fall that require a high hands-on component; however, we will be looking to lower the number of enrollees in each section of those classes or to modify meeting patterns to ensure that we can still observe the social distancing requirements that we have been told will still be in place potentially in some fashion throughout the semester.”
Beatty said she’s heard some students may choose to do a gap year during this time and complete general education classes at a junior college like MCC or JCCC.
She believes this is a great opportunity for students who would prefer to live at home or save money until things level out.
“We have a what we call a core 42, where students take those general education classes with us and they transfer anywhere in the state,” Beatty said. “And this gives an opportunity for students, especially during this crisis, to stay local, get the education that they need and transfer.”
Even getting transferable credits at UMKC is an option for many students.
Dr. Jennifer Lundgren, provost and executive vice chancellor at University of Missouri-Kansas City, said they hope their school can be an option for many students who would prefer to be closer to home.
“I think the the benefit of UMKC in that is that there are so many people from the Kansas City metro region that we are close to home,” Lundgren said.
“And so we are really encouraging students who maybe are considering a gap year before they go away to go ahead and get started at UMKC get some of those general education courses under their under their belt.”
Private universities move online
Private universities like Park, Avila and Rockhurst are also transitioning to a more online format. Moving toward the fall semester, more classes for Park and Avila will be available online.
Greg Gunderson, president of Park University, said their online learning program has been around longer than Google.
“We’ve been online for 25 years now,” Gunderson said. “And so for Park University, this spring was an exercise in systems that we’re used to using, and we went 100% online for all of our students.”
Ron Slepitza, president of Avila University, said they are doing everything they can to be proactive during this time, including moving not only their classes but also their services online.
“We’ve shifted everything to online instruction, online advising, online counseling, online working with mentors — all of that thing to enable our students to be successful,” Slepitza said.
“We are working to implement the student portion of the CARES Act, federal step stimulus so that we can get money into the hands of students who have been inconvenienced or in many cases seriously put in jeopardy because of the COVID-19.”
Rockhurst University delayed their summer and fall enrollment by one week according to their website and are completing their spring classes through Zoom.
Gunderson and Slepitza said they are both planning for this fall and making sure there are multiple plans in place.
“We’re really trying to anticipate a future that is not yet determined,” Slepitza said. “And so what will the fall look like? I don’t know. And we’ll have to plan for a variety of different scenarios. But where we won’t know probably until just before that.”
“We’re all different institutions, but we all work together,” Gunderson said. “And so you’re going to find a very collaborative environment, where we’re all trying to do the same thing — get students to be successful.”
Higher education adapts to post-pandemic possibilities
UMKC, Mizzou and KU are hoping for the best. At this point, each university is planning to resume regular classes, on campus, in the fall.
However, the universities realize that may not be reality.
Lundgren, at University of Missouri-Kansas City, said coming back to school will be different. They plan on using social distancing guidelines and hope students can have the college experience they’re hoping for.
“We don’t know at any point we might have to go back to a shelter in place situation,” Lundgren said. “So we need to be able to pivot and be online ready. And so that means building in activities and lectures so that they can be face-to-face, or they can be online as needed.”
The University of Missouri in Columbia said it’s not going to have students come back to campus without a plan for them to be safe. In the meantime, the university is keeping an eye on things as time passes to make sure they are being proactive.
The University of Kansas did not respond to a request for an interview, but posted online that they are “working with health officials and emergency management organizations to respond to evolving circumstances.”
The school has a website to assist faculty, students, and teachers for online teaching, studying, and support.
Safety and social distancing on campus
From junior colleges, to private and public universities — all are looking at how they’ve done business as usual and are finding new ways to function.
All colleges expressed they’re going to adhere to CDC guidelines and social distancing.
For classes that have to be held in person, or for individuals that have to be on campus, masks will be an expectation. Some schools mentioned they will try to provide them to students, along with increased hand sanitizer stations around campuses.
“If we have to lower [class sizes] because it’s a small room to 10 students, well, that has an impact on how we would do business as well,” Beatty said. “But we’re looking at furniture. We want to make sure we have the sanitizer stations all through for the summer where we have those small labs and exhibiting social distancing.”
“A classroom that might have had 24 in it may have 10 in it. In order to meet this distancing guidelines, a lab that might have had 24 might be eight or 10,” Slepitza said.
“Now for us, normally, our big most of our classrooms are 24 or less people. For our residence hall, it may mean that we’ll have to be in single room occupancy and adjust to that because that’s probably going to be with us for a while.”
Housing poses many questions for all universities that offer the service to students.
Those who do say they will be working with city and health leadership to ensure that students have a safe place to live while they are on campus.
“We’re considering all of those factors, and we will be guided by health health officials and whatever best practices at that point in time … whatever advice they give us,” Lundgren said. “So we want to make sure that we’re keeping the students safe and keeping staff and faculty safe.”
A representative from the University of Missouri in Columbia said they are working to not only make sure dorms are safe, but also look at options in case a student or a group of students need to be quarantined in an emergency.
All the educators hope no matter where each student finds themselves, that they are in a place where they don’t give up.
Whether you attend junior college, one closer to home, or far away, you keep going.
“Don’t stop out don’t end your academic career,” Gunderson said. “Now it’s easy to take a semester off. It’s hard to restart. And so I would challenge our students to stay engaged in their education and keep moving forward.”
A local family is shocked to learn their typically healthy mom now needs a machine to breath.
Ten days ago doctors diagnosed the mother of four with COVID-19. Now, her family is getting by as best they can, and her oldest son is hoping for good news.
Brian Leal and his mom Maria Elena Leal have a special bond.
“My mom is amazing,” Brian said. “She has the best personality I could ever imagine. It amazes me as somebody you really look up to.”
Maria Elena is a single mom to 19-year-old Brian, along with his 11-year-old sister and two siblings under five.
“I just miss her,” Brian said. “You only get one of those.”
Nearly two weeks ago, 36-year-old Leal started getting sick. They thought it was allergies, but then all the symptoms of COVID-19 started to appear.
By April 17, she was hospitalized and five days later put on a ventilator.
“It’s very scary because two days ago they called me and told me her heart stopped,” Brian said. “I started — I was freaking out because I didn’t know what to do, and they told me they were able to get her oxygen back.”
Brian sends his mother messages to her Facebook account, knowing she can’t respond but hoping one day she will.
“All I want is to hear the doctors say that your mom is progressing and coming home soon,” Brian said. “It’s all I want to hear.”
Brian and his grandmother are now taking care of his three siblings. Meanwhile, Maria’s car detailing business is on hold, and her life is hanging in the balance.
“One thing my mom told me is stay strong and never give up, and that’s what I’m doing,” Brian said.
If you are able to help this family, they set up a Gofundme to assist with medical costs and taking care of the children.