Alabama family urges precautions after son’s COVID-19 diagnosis

Braswell family

AUBURN, Ala.  – An Alabama family is going public with their son’s COVID-19 diagnosis in an effort to urge people to stay at home and social distance as the outbreak spreads across the country. On Sunday, March 15, the family was eating out at a downtown Auburn restaurant. Two days later, their son tested positive for COVID-19.

As of Wednesday morning, March 18, John Braswell, 25, was one of seven confirmed cases in Lee County, with the second-highest infection rate of any county in the state, behind Jefferson’s 23 cases. Alabama stood at 46 confirmed cases with zero deaths.

“JT” Braswell is typically a picture of health. On Wednesday, the Auburn University graduate reported feeling like he has an awful case of the flu — recovering at home in isolation. Braswell’s parents, Laura and John Braswell, his younger brother, and a friend also isolated themselves inside their Auburn home.

The family said on Saturday, JT returned from a Colorado spring break ski trip. On Sunday, they went out to lunch and walked around downtown Auburn. On Sunday night, JT began feeling sick and running a fever.

The family’s physician tested him for COVID-19. The family received word ski resorts were closing because of the virus and the local health department had issued an alert. That information and JT’s symptoms were enough to get him tested. On Tuesday, the young man received a call on his cellphone from the doctor. His mother handed him the phone.

“We could tell by his reaction it was positive, and I inadvertently put my hands to cover my face. I went inside and washed my hands and sprayed Lysol on a towel and patted my face,” shared Laura.

Laura, who survived a massive heart attack, is considered at risk.

“My immune system didn’t save me from a massive heart attack. I know the good Lord did, so I am leaving it in his hands to take care of me, and I am trusting in that,” shared Braswell.

Laura said she was quarantined inside a bedroom at the home and staying away from her son, a difficult task considering a mother’s instinct is to care for her sick children. She noted a family obsession with cleaning counters and items with anti-bacterial wipes and sprays and said JT had gloves and a mask.

JT felt too sick to do an interview but asked his parents to speak for him. The family said they felt strongly about going public because prior to JT feeling sick, they had lunch Sunday in downtown Auburn.

“Sunday, we met him for lunch in downtown Auburn, and we walked around campus, and we had dinner Sunday night at our house and played cards. Late Sunday, he texted saying he wasn’t feeling well,” explained his father, John Braswell.

After the COVID-19 diagnosis, the family immediately notified everyone they had contact with including JT’s ski group, the downtown restaurant where they had lunch on Sunday, and Auburn city leaders.

“We really feel awful for being out on Sunday, but again, we had no way of knowing our child was sick,” shared Laura.

As of Wednesday morning, the family said they continued to wait for a call from the Alabama Department of Public Health. They decided it was up to them to not only notify those they had contact with, but to share their story with as many people as possible in an effort to stop the spread and educate others.

“It’s very important to get the word out because you might feel well, but still be sick and spread the virus,” shared JT’s father.

JT’s symptoms seemed to come and go. Sometimes, he noted feeling better before feeling miserable again. The family was staying in touch with their physician and hopeful testing would ramp up in Lee County and across other areas. They said they’re especially concerned for Auburn students and the community. They urged students and others to stop hanging out in restaurants and bars while school is out, hopeful people would stay at home and practice social distancing if they do have to get out and work.

On Tuesday, Auburn’s mayor urged folks to stay at home if at all possible to slow the spread. The Braswell family was glad to hear his advice and prayed others would heed the warning.

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