Bill Kelly, 95, has offered inspiring words of advice as the elderly continue to struggle under the strain of coronavirus

Bill Kelly, a 95-year-old WWII veteran who lives in Oregon, is serving as a source of inspiration after he overcame coronavirus, which is heavily impacting the elderly population.

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Kelly's granddaughter Rose Etherington told IrishCentral that Kelly is a proud Irish American who has roots in Ballyhaunis, Co Mayo. Speaking with OregonLive, Etherington described the ordeal that impacted Kelly's whole family.

Etherington said that her grandfather, who has kidney disease, a congenital heart condition, and high blood pressure, developed a low-grade fever and wasn’t feeling well on March 15. He was admitted to the hospital for one night and was released the next day feeling much better. 

While Kelly probably wouldn’t have qualified for one of the limited Covid-19 tests in Oregon, doctors tested him after learning that Etherington's husband is a medical evacuation pilot and may have come into contact with Covid-19 patients.

On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Kelly found out he was indeed positive for Covid-19. The diagnosis kicked off a two-week quarantine period for Kelly, as well as the extended family he lives with: Rose and her husband Isaac, Rose’s mother, and Rose’s two young children.

Isaac was the only other person in the home that was tested and his results were negative. Rose said that no one else in the family exhibited symptoms but they checked in with the local health executive daily and made sure to disinfect anything in the house that Kelly had come into contact with.

“But it was still nerve-wracking,” Etherington told OregonLive. “We were just drinking hot tea all the time. Taking zinc. Washing our hands constantly.”

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Kelly was largely confined to his bedroom for the first week of quarantine. He drank plenty of fluids and got lots of rest while he watched old movies and prayed to pass the time. 

“It was seven days where we treated the poor guy like a leper,” Isaac Etherington said.

On March 21, Etherington shared an update on Facebook saying that Kelly was doing well. In the post, she said her grandfather told her: “I survived the foxholes of Guam, I can get through this Corona Virus bull**** ," a prime example of Kelly's "strong mental resolve."

When asked what advice he would give, Kelly told his granddaughter: “Always be grateful. Thank God continually for what he has blessed you with. Don’t get caught up in the peripheral things of this earth, because everything can disappear, just like that. Family is most important. Stick together, take care of each other.” 


Publiée par Rose Ayers-Etherington sur Samedi 21 mars 2020

On March 30, Kelly officially ended his two week quarantine period. He told OregonLive: “We’re doing just fine here. We’re toughing it out,” adding, “I’ve got two great-grandsons to keep me busy. I’ve been very fortunate.”

“I know this has been hard for so many people,” Rose said. “I hope that Grandpa Bill can be a source of hope and inspiration.”

Bill Kelly with his two great-grandchildren (Courtesy of Rose Etherington)

Bill Kelly with his two great-grandchildren (Courtesy of Rose Etherington)

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While Kelly’s tale is inspirational, it comes in stark contrast to the reality some other elderly people are facing. 

On March 24, the CDC released a report which analyzed coronavirus cases in the US between February 12 and March 16. The report found that the fatality rate for coronavirus patients was the highest in persons 85 years or older.

At The Soldiers' Home in Holyoke, Massachusetts, eleven veterans have died in recent days; five of them had tested positive for coronavirus while tests are still pending on the remainder. An additional 11 veterans and five staff members have also tested positive, according to NPR.

Governor Charlie Baker called the situation a “shuddering loss for us all.”

As of April 1, the US had the most reported confirmed cases of coronavirus anywhere in the world with over 206,200.

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