If there’s one thing that Vanessa Garza and Raymond Simmons want everyone in Kerrville to know it’s to not dismiss coronavirus as fake.
It has become a very scary part of their life after Simmons tested positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday, and he’s become increasingly sicker as of Wednesday afternoon. He’s the 11th person to become infected by the virus. The other 10 people are believed to have recovered.
“Stay in the house,” Simmons said behind a mask from his Kerrville home, where he is self-isolating with Garza and five children, including a baby grandson.
Across Texas on Wednesday, more than 1,400 people tested positive for the virus, and there were 50 deaths. COVID-19 has now killed more than 1,400 people across the state, but more than 30,000 have recovered.
During a Facebook Live video posted by Garza on Tuesday evening, Simmons described his symptoms, including feeling like being on fire due to a high fever.
“My body is hot, like it’s on fire,” said Simmons, who also was fighting a dry cough behind a mask.
He’s also experienced persistent diarrhea and, on Wednesday, he began losing his sense of taste and smell. Simmons said that he also has developed a painful reddening of his toes — also known as “COVID toes” by doctors.
“I thought that toe stuff was something that somebody made up,” Simmons said.
During an interview with The Kerrville Daily Times via Facebook Live on Wednesday night, Garza said they went to San Antonio on May 11 to purchase a large trampoline for their children. That was done through a private party. The couple made several stops in San Antonio, including at an Academy Sports and at Sam’s Club. They also stopped at Simmons’ mother’s house for a quick visit.
After weeks of being in Kerrville through the pandemic lockdown, Garza felt it was getting safer to go out, and the trip to Sam’s Club was to purchase bulk items for their family. However, she said, few people were wearing masks at Sam’s Club. Garza and Simmons both wore masks in public spaces, she said.
“I wish I would have never went to that damn store,” Garza said during her video.
Garza and Simmons can’t pinpoint where he contracted the virus, but they believe it’s likely at either Academy Sports or the Sam’s Club, because of the sheer number of people in those stores.
“We thought it was going to be very different,” she said about the use of masks and restricting people in the stores.
By the evening of May 16, Simmons started feeling feverish, and Garza took his temperature, but it was normal.
“When he woke up Sunday morning, he was literally on fire,” Garza said. “I wanted to take him to urgent care, but he said he was fine. It took our 13-year-old daughter to tell him ‘I don’t care what you say, you’re going to go to this hospital if I have to take you myself.’”
At Peterson Regional Medical Center, Simmons was tested for flu and strep and then tested for COVID-19, but he was sent home. Garza said she objected to that, but hospital staff said he had good vitals and didn’t need to be hospitalized.
Since that visit to the hospital, Simmons has suffered through a wide range of symptoms, including headaches, coughing and tightness in his chest. However, he’s still maintained an appetite, despite struggling to keep things down.
The couple is in regular contact with the Texas Department of State Health Services, and Simmons received a call on Wednesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While Garza and her children and grandchild have not been tested, they are keeping their distance from friends and family until they are clear of the virus.
“We’re in quarantine for a month,” she said. “We’re not going anywhere.”
Through all of this, Garza said she’s been overwhelmed by the community. A lifelong Kerrville resident, Garza is part of a large family, but others have stepped up, including a gift of groceries from Mount Olive Church and the Doyle School Community Center.
“Coach (Clifton) Fifer was the one who delivered them today,” Garza said of the groceries. “He’s an awesome man, I give him all the praise.”
Others have stepped up as well, and Garza said she’s been overwhelmed by the generosity of this community.
“I don’t know what I would do without this community,” Garza said. “All of the love, support and praise — it’s been awesome.”