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Woman urges everyone to take precautions after giving 99-year-old mother COVID-19

Posted at 11:25 AM, Nov 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-06 11:25:15-05

SARASOTA, Fla. — A Florida woman says she fell ill with COVID-19 and passed the coronavirus onto her 99-year-old mother who lives with her.

Ruta Jouniari said she felt sick in October. She had a fever, cough and headache.

"I literally couldn't breathe. I tried to take a breath and the pain in my lungs was so incredible," she said.

Jouniari was hospitalized at Sarasota Memorial Hospital for three days, but did not need oxygen.

"The nights were horrific, you have night sweats, shivering. You're achy. You can't breathe," she said.

Her mother, who Jouniari is the primary caregiver of in her home, later tested positive for COVID-19.

Jouniari said her mother never left the house, so she knows she brought the virus home, but she doesn't know where she contracted it.

Her mother's age put her at a high risk of contracting the virus. Her mother, she added, suffered from a stroke about seven years ago.

"The guilt trip that goes with a child giving their parent COVID is not a fun reality of life," she said.

Jouniari said her mother was hospitalized for 10 days. She was on a ventilator in an intensive care unit. Doctors treated her mother with plasma, remdesivir and dexamethasone.

"Going in, it's so frightening and you're so scared and you're scared for yourself when you're the patient, but you're even more scared knowing the statistics of a 99-year-old going in," said Jouniari.

Jouniari said her mother left the hospital on Monday.

"For her to come out and come home today and she's in her own room, her own bed, breathing on two liters of oxygen. It's just amazing," she said.

She urges everyone to take precautions and protect the vulnerable population.

"I hate to say this, but you could kill them. I was witness to that. I could have. My mom is a miracle of miracles. She's a statistic anomaly. She shouldn't have made it and she did," said Jouniari.

She said she appreciates everyone who prayed for her mother. She said she is also thankful for the doctors and nurses who cared for her mother.

"I had over 800 people praying for her and it was incredible...the power of that was just amazing," Jouniari said. "For those families who are suffering, I hope they have solace and peace, just pray hard and have faith just know that people at 99 make it out. She is a testament to that."

This story was originally published by Julie Salomone at WFTS.

Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Science and Engineering