EAST ORANGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Caring for a family member fighting the deadly COVID-19 virus at home can be challenging.

CBS2’s Cory James spoke with a New Jersey woman who got a tough lesson on helping loved ones combat the illness.

Shalonda Owens took her vows of “in sickness and in health” very seriously. So much so that when her husband Dana came down with COVID-19, she was right there with him at home.

“I didn’t want to separate because I had to check his breathing,” she told James. “And you’re not really thinking that you’re going to die, ‘Oh, I need to get away from this person.'”


With no gloves or masks to put on, the pastor’s wife made do with what was inside their house.

“I did have wipes and things of that nature that I would wipe things up,” she said.

But that was not enough. Within just a few days of caring for Dana, the virus caught up to her.

“I began to mimic his symptoms: Body aches, temperature,” she said. “It was just like – the fever is back.”

“It can bring about a level of fear that you haven’t experienced before,” said Dana.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Shalonda says a test by her doctor determined she was also positive for coronavirus, leaving two people under one roof battling the same deadly disease, both of them dealing with shortness of breath, an uncontrollable cough, and very low energy.

“It was emotional because there was nothing you could do,” she said.

They lost their sense of smell for about a week, but it’s coming back.

CBS2’s Dr. Max Gomez says what you can do is take necessary steps to protect yourself if caring for a loved one fighting the virus.

PHOTO GALLERY: A Look Inside NYC’s Viral ‘Warzone’

“To the extent that it’s possible, you should try to sleep in separate bedrooms and use separate bathrooms, use gloves and masks as much as possible,” said Gomez. “Washing hands all the time, disinfect all kinds of surfaces, including laundry.”

“What are you thankful for in this moment?” James asked Shalonda.

“Life,” she said – something many of us have realized can be taken away at an instant.


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