EUGENE, Ore. — A man who knows the dangers of COVID-19 all too well is pleading with people to be cautious.
"We just need to care," said Brian Alexander.
Brian battled the virus. His wife, Mary Kay, did, too. She died in March.
"Widowhood has been described to me as having a piece of you chopped off and I think that's true," he said.
Brian believes he and his wife contracted the virus while attending a memorial service in Washington state in late February. They got sick shortly after returning home to Lane County. Brian says Mary Kay felt the worst of the two.
"She said get the shower ready for me and I got the shower ready for her and she says I'll need you to help me in there cause I'm not feeling too great," he said. "I go over to help her up and she collapsed on the floor. Her legs didn't work at all."
Brian says his wife stopped breathing. Her lips turned blue. He called 911. Medics rushed Mary Kay to the hospital where she died. She was 60.
"Three days later I get a call from the county health department saying she tested positive for COVID."
Brian did, too, but he recovered. He says Mary Kay's death was the first in Lane County to be linked to COVID-19. In the months to follow the number of deaths across the state was relatively low. We have since seen a spike. The coronavirus has now claimed more than 900 lives in Oregon.
"I'm doing my best to live my life and figure out how to go ahead on my own," Brian said.
Brian says life is hard. So, too, is the constant reminder that not everybody thinks the pandemic is real.
"It's out there," he said. "It's real and you may get sick or you may not and if you get sick you may get hospitalized or you may die from it."
Brian is urging everyone to take this seriously. He wants people to wear masks and to social distance.
"It behooves us all to be very careful and do what we can to not infect ourselves or loved ones or other people in the world."