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The family of a Florida man who was hospitalized for weeks on a ventilator after contracting COVID-19 believes he was infected by his 21-year-old stepson after going out with friends.
The young man’s stepmother, Michelle Zymet, pleaded with him not to go out as coronavirus cases rose throughout the state, but he did so anyway, Fox News reported.
“It’s just not the time,” she said she told her stepson, noting that his father, John Place, 42, is overweight and diabetic — co-morbidities that contribute to contracting the disease, health experts have long warned.
The stepson went out with friends in early June as the state was reopening from coronavirus shutdowns and reportedly removed his mask while eating and drinking. He would later develop cold symptoms and, believing he simply caught a common cold, treated himself with over-the-counter meds.
After hearing that one of his friends tested positive for coronavirus, the stepson still wasn’t convinced that he had contracted the disease.
However, coronavirus did begin to spread around the household. His 14-year-old brother, who is also overweight, was the first to develop symptoms of wheezing, coughing, and lethargy.
Then, his six-year-old sister developed a runny nose, while Zymet experienced aches, fever, and chills.
All of the family members tested positive for COVID-19 but only Place was hospitalized after four days of coughing and fever.
He has remained in the hospital for nearly three weeks, spending a great deal of that time on a ventilator.
In a Facebook post last weekend, Zymet announced that Place was taken off the vent after about two weeks.
“I know where I got it from,” said Place from the hospital, in an interview with Inside Edition. “We were all being careful but one person in my house thought it was more important to go hang out with some friends.”
“They don’t necessarily listen. It could be peer pressure,” Zymet noted. “Maybe they think, ‘None of us are sick. We are fine.’ They don’t understand many of us are asymptomatic and are positive carriers of the virus.”
Nevertheless, Zymet told reporters that she’s been called an “awful mother” and “evil witch” for placing blame on her stepson. She explained that she thought it was important to spread the word about her family as test positives rise among younger people.
She noted that she and her family have remained in self-isolation at home, adding that the stepson is helping to take care of the younger kids and is researching the virus as she juggles her schedule between work and calls to the hospital and doctors.
“[The stepson] feels an immense amount of guilt and I feel terrible for that because that’s not what we want to do, this isn’t about pointing fingers, this is more of a cautionary tale at this point to really help others,” Zymet said.
She added that she believes it’s important for younger people to take advice from some health professionals and older adults. “Take the necessary precautions, and just wear the mask,” she advised.
People commenting on the story shared varied opinions.
“Risky behavior? Going out with his friends? Look, this is what liberals think: young people living normal lives is risky behavior. Liberalism really IS a dangerous disease,” one commenter wrote.
“MORE FAKE NEWS form the now LEFT Leaning Fox News,” wrote another.
“No one can pinpoint where they actually got a virus,” added another.
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