The Charlotte Observer (Sunday)

Wife returns from hospital to find husband dead of COVID

- BY ANDREA SALCEDO The Washington Post

Lisa Steadman could not wait to go home to her husband.

The nail technician had spent more than a week in a Central Florida hospital recovering from a serious case of the coronaviru­s while Ronald Steadman, who had also contracted COVID-19, battled a milder case from home.

During many of their check-in phone calls, she relayed to him how scared she was of dying alone in the hospital. Her health was improving and so was his, he reassured her. Soon, they’d be back together at the Winter Haven, Fla., home they were in the middle of renovating.

But Ronald, 55, did not appear to be home when Lisa returned on Aug. 11.

“Ron? Ron?” Lisa, 58, yelled while searching for him throughout the house.

Eventually, the barking of their three dogs led her to their bedroom.

When Lisa cracked open the door, she found Ron unresponsi­ve on his side of the bed and their three dogs in distress. By then, his body had already began decomposin­g, she told The Washington Post. The dogs looked as if they had not been fed or given water for at least two days, she said.

“I just went hysterical,” Lisa said. “It was like walking into a horror movie. That’s what I see now when I think of him.”

Neither Ron, who died of COVID-19 complicati­ons, nor Lisa had been vaccinated, Lisa said. Both had agreed they would wait longer to schedule their shots. Lisa rarely got sick and only left her house for work, and Ron, who was in charge of running the couple’s errands during the pandemic, always wore his mask and stayed away from large crowds, Lisa said.

“Both of us thought that [the vaccine] came out so fast. How could they have done so much testing on it? I was just cautious about it,” she said. “It’s not that I was against vaccines.”

Ron, a mechanical and electrical engineer, was the first one to test positive on Aug. 1, Lisa said. Doctors at the urgent care site he visited sent him home with medication­s and asked him to return if his condition worsened. Two days later, Lisa, who had gone to the emergency room because she started exhibiting symptoms, also tested positive. She was sent home, only to return days later after her oxygen levels dropped to 80 percent and she lost consciousn­ess at home.

The couple kept in touch throughout much of her hospital stay, Lisa said. How are the dogs doing? How do you feel today? Have you called your family? the couple would ask each other, Lisa said. After nearly a week in the hospital, Lisa reported feeling better. Ron was also improving, she said.

Days before she was expected to be discharged, Ron told her that his phone was not working properly. At one point when Lisa could not reach him, she called the Winter Haven Police Department to go check on him, she said.

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