Five members of a Missouri family have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including a woman who works at a preschool where several other teachers have also been infected.
Jane Weinhaus, 63, and her St. Louis-area family, including her husband, two adult children and a daughter-in-law, have all tested positive.
Weinhaus, a teacher at Deutsch Early Childhood Center at Congregation Temple Israel in Creve Coeur in St. Louis County, was on a ventilator for more than a week, her son told NBC affiliate KSDK.
“My mom just developed a cough,” Ryan Weinhaus, 32, said. “Just a normal cough.”
That was mid-March.
Since then, her husband, Michael Weinhaus, 63, has also been hospitalized.
In a telephone interview Tuesday from his hospital room, Michael Weinhaus, said his wife was showing signs of improvement.
“My wife is off her ventilator and is taking very small baby steps,” he said.
Michael Weinhaus said that though he is in intensive care, he believes it is vital to speak publicly to warn people about the dangers of the virus.
Ryan Weinhaus, who, along with wife Brittanie, 31, and brother Jason, 37, also tested positive but are recovering, said his mother had no previous health issues and no pre-existing conditions.
“We thought she just maybe had the flu or had a bad cough,” he told KSDK.
The school where Jane Weinhaus teaches has been closed for the remainder of the semester and is operating online instead, according to its communication director, Erin May.
During spring break, which ran March 14 to 22, the school learned that four teachers and one parent had tested positive for COVID-19, May said.
“We made the decision initially to close through April 5, same as the local school districts,” she said. “A few days later, we decided it would be most prudent to close for the duration of the semester.”
NBC News reached out to Ryan and Jason Weinhaus at numbers listed for them but did not immediately hear back. Brittanie Weinhaus declined to comment Tuesday.
“I did not expect myself to test positive or to have some of these symptoms, but it can happen to anybody,” Ryan told KSDK. “It’s not just elderly individuals.”
He said he feels tired and is experiencing shortness of breath.
Public health officials have said the virus appears to spread easily in family clusters.
“If you look, most cases, for example, even in China, are in family clusters. Most secondary cases occur in families,” Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of the World Health Organization’s health emergencies program, said during a news conference last month. “That’s been driving the epidemic.”
Ryan Weinhaus said his family is thankful for the support they have received and are “cautiously optimistic.”
“It’s not even so much about you protecting yourself, but it’s you protecting people on the outside as well,” Ryan Weinhaus said. “So be smart. Stay in your house.”