Virus survivor Alene Turner, 95, may be county’s oldest covid patient

Thornfield resident Alene Turner had covid-19 recently and lived to tell the tale – quite a feat for someone who’s 95 and was recently diagnosed with a heart condition.

The Ozark County Health Department could not comment due to privacy regulations, but Alene believes she may be the oldest Ozark Countian to have had the virus, which, as of Monday night, had infected a total of 288 people, with 87 of those cases currently active. 

In fact, Alene was one of several in her family who tested positive for the virus, now sweeping through the country as a pandemic. In October, her son Gier Turner, who had open-heart surgery earlier this year, was the first of Alene’s five adult children to test positive. Next, another son, Ozark County Presiding Commissioner John Turner, tested positive on Oct. 25. Alene’s daughter Jamie Wyman tested positive on Oct. 29, and her son Larry Turner tested positive on Nov. 2. 

Alene and her granddaughter Shawna Evans both tested positive on Nov. 4.  

Alene’s daughter Gainesville Mayor Gail Reich somehow managed to evade the virus, but she self-quarantined because she had been with her daughter and son-in-law, who had tested positive. 

The good news is that everyone in Alene’s family survived the virus, which has killed 3,386 Missourians and more than 245,000 Americans so far this year. In Ozark County, only two covid deaths have been officially reported to the health department; however, anecdotal information indicates several other Ozark Countians have died while actively infected with the virus.

Covid’s deadly potential made the experience a scary one for the Turner family. “The first thing you think is, it’s kind of like the diagnosis when you have cancer,” said Alene’s daughter Jamie Wyman, a cancer survivor. “You think, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to die because the numbers are so great right now.’ And then every day you think, ‘Is this as sick as I’m going to get, or will tomorrow be worse?’ You have no idea, because covid is so different for everybody. The next day, you think, ‘Am I going to end up in the hospital tomorrow?’”   

The family was especially concerned about Alene because of her age and also because of her “afib” heart condition, which was diagnosed shortly before the positive covid test. “Mother can hardly breathe anyway,” Jamie said, “so we were worried about her.”

But, in the end, it was the youngest one of the family, granddaughter Shawna, 41, who had the hardest case – and even for her, it wasn’t that bad, Jamie said. “She was achier than the rest of us, but most of us just had symptoms like a head cold, with some congestion. I had some nausea, but it really wasn’t bad.”

Jamie’s husband, Ozark County Road and Bridge Department employee Keith Wyman, and her daughter, Teegan Hathcock, 10, never showed symptoms, but they’ve had to quarantine for two weeks after Jamie’s last quarantine date, which was Nov. 9. 

“So they have to quarantine until the 22nd,” she said Monday. “They did 10 days’ quarantine after I tested positive, and then they have to do two more weeks from my last day.”

 Alene’s quarantine ended Friday, Nov. 13.

For her family, the quarantining may have been the hardest part of the experience. 

“We dodged the bullet,” Jamie said.  

Ozark County Times

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