After COVID-19 infected nine members of their family earlier this summer – including themselves – Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth and his wife Melissa are sharing their story, hoping that it will encourage people to wear their masks and make choices considerate of others during this pandemic.
"You just never know where you are going to pick it up," Melissa said during a video conference with her husband Tuesday morning. "It is everywhere."
For the Whitworths, they got it by extension of a member of their household around mid-June.
The family's live-in nanny, Krista, had gone down to San Diego, where she will be attending law school, to move into her apartment, then went out to lunch with a friend afterward. Unfortunately, the restaurant they ate at had workers who later tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
When Krista returned, she didn't show symptoms until two days later, after the Whitworths had already departed to Louisiana to visit Melissa's 66-year-old parents, Mike and Cindy Clark. Later, as they were driving to their summer home in Colorado with Melissa's parents and their four children (ages 5, 8, 9 and 9), Andrew and Melissa figured Krista probably had COVID-19 and that they all had been exposed to the virus.
All eight got tested upon arriving in Colorado, and each of their results came back positive.
"We just sort of went down from there," Melissa said. "Andrew and I both got it, but would've never known we had it, had Krista not tested positive because our symptoms were very, very mild."
Melissa said she experienced a sore throat, while Andrew dealt with a headache. Then, a few days later, they both lost their sense of taste and smell. One of their daughters had a high fever, while the other had a mild fever and headache. One of their sons dealt with stomach problems while the other, who has asthma, "weezed a little bit" but it lasted only 24 hours.
Out of the nine infected, though, Melissa's father had the most harrowing experience. She said the virus "immediately was in his chest," and he dealt with a longer-lasting fever and shortness of breath. Mike's symptoms were so severe that Andrew had to drive him from Colorado back home to Los Angeles to take him to the hospital, where he stayed for five days and was on oxygen.
Mike is back home and "doing really well," according to Melissa, but Andrew said scarring issues from his lungs due to the infection will take another 4-6 weeks to heal.
"He ended up turning the corner and getting better, but there was about 72 hours there where we didn't know if we would see him again," Melissa said of her father. "It was really, really hard. Really hard."
The rest of the Whitworths are currently healthy, now almost 28 days removed from their 14-day incubation period. However, they still want this experience to serve as a cautionary tale for others.
Despite following public health guidelines beforehand – practicing social distancing, staying at home, wearing masks, even utilizing grocery delivery service – they still got infected.
"The reality is, if one of you has been in any situation where you could've possibly picked it up, we talked about this (that) maybe we should've all as a family, not necessarily out in public, worn masks when we traveled together in the car," Andrew said. "Maybe that would've eliminated someone from getting it, because we were obviously around other family members and friends during this time that no one got it."
In hindsight, Andrew and Melissa said that if Krista was going to go out to eat with her friend at a restaurant, they would've had her quarantine in San Diego for 14 days before returning home. Andrew said Krista did nothing wrong – she just had the misfortune of going to a place where workers tested positive for COVID-19.
"That moment you feel a little bit of a freedom, it could come back," Andrew said. "It's so contagious, it happens quickly."