AUBURN, Ala. (WRBL) – An Auburn 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. Sunday the family was eating out at a downtown Auburn restaurant, two days later their son tested positive for COVID-19.
As of Wednesday morning, 25-year old John Thomas Braswell is one of seven confirmed cases in Lee County. The area has the second-highest infection rate of any county in the state, behind Jefferson’s 23 cases. Alabama stands at 46 confirmed cases with zero deaths.
JT Braswell is typically a picture of health. Now Wednesday, the Auburn University graduate is feeling like he has an awful case of the flu while he recovers at home in isolation from COVID-19. Braswell’s parents, Laura and John Braswell, his younger brother and a friend are all isolating themselves inside their Auburn home.
The family says Saturday JT returned from a Colorado spring break ski trip. Sunday they went out to lunch and walked around downtown Auburn. 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 the 25-year-old tested. Tuesday, John Thomas received a call on his cell 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 is considered at risk. She’s already survived a massive heart attack.
“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 is relying on her faith and common sense to protect her and her family. She’s quarantining 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. The family is now obsessed with cleaning counters and items with anti-bacterial wipes and sprays. JT has gloves and a mask.
JT felt too sick to do an interview but asked his parents to speak with News 3 for him. The family feels 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 says they continue waiting on 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 seem to come and go. Sometimes he feels better but then feels miserable again. They are staying in touch with their physician and are hoping testing will ramp up in Lee County and across other areas.
Meanwhile, the Braswell family is especially concerned for Auburn students and the community. They urge students and others to stop hanging out in restaurants and bars while school is out. They hope you will stay at home and practice social distancing if you do have to get out and work.
Tuesday, Auburn’s Mayor urged folks to stay at home if at all possible to slow the spread. The Braswell family is glad to hear his advice and pray others will heed the warning.