But it was too late for the Roberts family.
Paul Roberts, a former musician and carpenter turned computer programmer for NASA, now works at a software company. He and his wife, a retired Methodist Hospital nurse who calls herself a “glass half full person,” ran an online fanzine and attended Comic Con events years ago. They gather weekly with their two daughters, son-in-law and 7-year-old grandson for jigsaw puzzles and fierce games of Uno.
“They are amazing nerds,” Ms. Roman, 38, said of her parents.
Sheryl Roberts, 65, understood the perils of the pandemic — she had diabetes, asthma and heart disease, which could put her at higher risk. Her husband had chronic lung disease and a stent to open a blocked coronary artery.
“We have been so careful, so very careful, and stayed away from people,” Ms. Roberts said. Her husband began working from home in the spring when Washington State, New York and then other areas around the country were hit hard. Mr. Roberts occasionally made a supermarket run during “senior” hour; the couple’s only “big, hot date” in recent months, Ms. Roberts said, was to view wildflowers from their car.
Their younger daughter was diligent as well. But then she came back from work sneezing one day in mid-June and thought it was allergies. Soon she had a cough, fever, headaches and diarrhea, and lost her senses of taste and smell, telltale symptoms of the coronavirus.
“She told me, ‘I don’t know what’s going on, Mom, but I wore a mask, I wore gloves, I washed my hands,’” Ms. Roberts said. “You do the right things, and still you get it.”
Elaine Roberts, who tested positive for the coronavirus, did not become seriously ill. But for her parents, it would be much worse.
Daughter, Sister, Caretaker
Mr. Roberts and his wife started sneezing, then coughing, just like their daughter, and developed fevers and severe body aches. Then he got “awfully sick, awfully quickly,” Sheryl Roberts recalled. He became confused on June 22. Alarmed, she tested his oxygen level. It was low, and she called her older daughter to take him to an emergency care center, the second visit in two days.