YAMHILL, Ore. — Bill Kelly lived through the Great Depression.
He served in the South Pacific during World War II.
At 95, the Yamhill County resident still has a bit of fight left in him, even after a weekslong bout with coronavirus.
“Grandpa Bill’s pretty hardcore,” his granddaughter, Rose Etherington, 41, told The Oregonian/OregonLive.
Etherington as well as her mother, husband and two small children, a 5-year-old and 11-month-old, live together with Kelly in McMinnville.
Her grandfather completed his COVID-19 recovery Monday, she said, which also marked the end of a 14-day home quarantine for the rest of the family.
Their saga began when Kelly came down with a low-grade fever and complained of not feeling well on March 15.
Because of several medical issues — kidney disease, a congenital heart condition, high blood pressure — he went to the hospital and stayed overnight, Ayers said.
The next day Kelly felt much better and returned home.
His mild illness probably wouldn’t have warranted one of Oregon’s limited coronavirus tests, Etherington said.
But her husband, Isaac Etherington, is a medical evacuation pilot and had recently flown potential COVID-19 patients, prompting doctors to test Kelly out of an abundance of caution.
The result came back positive March 17.
Health officials told Etherington that she and the rest of the family ought to self-quarantine with her grandfather for the next two weeks.
Isaac Etherington was also given a test for the virus, which came back negative.
No one else in the house was tested, though they checked in with the county health department daily.
None of them displayed symptoms of the virus or ever felt sick.
“But it was still nerve-wracking,” Rose Etherington said. “We were just drinking hot tea all the time. Taking zinc. Washing our hands constantly.”
It was also hard because Kelly had to spend the first week home almost entirely in his bedroom.
His family had to avoid him when he’d venture out of his room wearing a surgical mask. They scrubbed clean any surface he got close to.
“It was seven days where we treated the poor guy like a leper,” said Isaac Etherington, 42.
But Kelly said his spirits never sank. He drank lots of liquids, got plenty of rest, watched a number of old movies and prayed.
“We’re doing just fine here. We’re toughing it out.” Kelly said. “I’ve got two great-grandsons to keep me busy. I’ve been very fortunate.”
Other elderly residents in Yamhill County have been less so. Two men in their 90s have died of coronavirus in the last week, according to state health officials.
To date, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of 16 people in Oregon. All of them have been age 60 or over and, like Kelly, had underlying health issues.
“I know this has been hard for so many people,” Rose Etherington said. “I hope that Grandpa Bill can be a source of hope and inspiration.”
-- Shane Dixon Kavanaugh; 503-294-7632
This article was originally published by The Oregonian/Oregonlive, one of more than a dozen news organizations throughout the state sharing their coverage of the novel coronavirus outbreak to help inform Oregonians about this evolving health issue.