LINTON, Ind. (AP) — With 182 years of living between them, Linton residents Dean Chambers and Charlotte Webb have taken life’s blows and beaten the odds, surviving into their 90s.
Add survival of COVID-19 to their list of accomplishments.
Recent data indicates 13% of people older than 80 who contract the virus die, compared with about 1% of people in their 50s.
Chambers — his name is Floyd but he goes by Dean — is 92 years old. He’s an organic farmer, and friend and caretaker for 90-year-old Webb.
It was about a month ago when she complained of a headache and was overcome by fatigue. She told Chambers she wanted to go to the hospital.
When her COVID-19 test came back positive, emergency workers went to Chambers’ residence and found him extremely weak. His oxygen levels were low, and he, too, tested positive for the coronavirus.
For two weeks, both Chambers and Webb were patients at Greene County General Hospital. This week, they are back home.
Chambers said he’s pretty much returned to his old self, while Webb still suffers from fatigue and continues to fight her way back to good health. When they were hospitalized, the two were able to visit one another, since they both had the virus.
The Greene County General Hospital Foundation provided electronic tablets, purchased with donations, so Chambers and Webb could communicate with family and friends through video conferencing.
They credit healthy living and organic foods, as well as support from people who care about them, for helping them fight off the virus.
Stacy Burris is the community outreach director at Greene County General, a small rural hospital at the edge of Linton. She said telling a story of hope amid a pandemic, such as the one about Chambers and Webb, is important.
Their tenacity, she said, shows the resilience some of the oldest among the population can muster.
She interviewed the Linton pair, took a few pictures and noted how attentive Chambers was, making sure Webb was taking her medication as prescribed and resting.
“It was very emotional, and we wanted to put this story out, some good news, since we hear stories from across the nation about the toll on the elderly,” Burris said.
The positive news comes during a grim time for Greene County. Last week, health officials there announced five COVID-19 related deaths of patients at Linton’s Glenburn Home, where more than 40 residents and multiple staff members have tested positive.
Burris said the hospital currently is treating two patients for the virus, but is ramped up for more given the outbreak at the local nursing home.
“We are preparing in case we have more cases,” Burris said Monday afternoon. “One of the hardest parts is that nobody knows how the virus will affect each person. We are waiting to see.”