Adolph “T.J.” Mendez succumbed to the disease at Austin’s Ascension Seton Medical Center. His daughter said he had been “perfectly healthy” before contracting the illness and did not have any underlying health conditions.
Mendez reportedly started feeling sick earlier in the month and took over-the-counter medication to treat his symptoms. He went to a doctor and was prescribed medicine when his condition didn’t improve, and he saw the doctor again last Thursday because he was still unwell. That’s when he was told to go to a hospital for a coronavirus test.
He had a slight fever, headache, cough and shortness of breath, and his condition deteriorated quickly. He became delirious, underwent surgery, and was placed on life support before suffering a brain hemorrhage that his doctors said he wouldn’t recover from.
His daughter, Brenda Johnson, told the media that the doctors and nurses were very helpful during the ordeal. Because of his diagnosis, family members couldn’t visit him, but the doctors kept them updated with phone calls several times a day. She said they prayed over him and even asked what type of music he liked and played it for him. They also put the family on speaker phone so he could hear their voices.
Mendez was a kindergarten teacher at the Oakwood Church, and he leaves behind a wife, three daughters, and three sons.
His wife said that he did not drink or smoke, exercised regularly, ate a healthy diet, and took vitamins daily.
"You hear that the people who die are older or have previous health conditions, but he was neither and the virus took him down hard,” Angela Mendez said.
"It can happen to anyone, it’s not just a story that happens to people across the world. It’s here and it’s real and it can kill anyone, just like it did my husband."
Oakwood Church Pastor Ray Still spoke highly of Mendez, who he described as being “healthy and strong,” before taking the opportunity to remind everyone in the community that coronavirus needs to be taken seriously.
He said that everyone needs to follow the advice of government and health officials for the good of the community at large.
In Austin-Travis County, most of those testing positive for coronavirus are under the age of 50. Austin Public Health has asked people who have symptoms like coughing, fever, shortness of breath, or a loss of the sense of taste or smell to use telemedicine or call their doctor for a screening to avoid spreading it.
Comal County Public Health Director Cheryl Fraser said that Mendez’s case marked the first time a patient tested positive there without having left the county, which means the disease is spreading within the community. As of last Friday, nine cases of COVID-19 had been reported in Comal County, including five who are hospitalized or self-isolating, three who recovered, and Mendez.
Although it was initially believed that the virus was most dangerous in elderly people, it’s also been making younger people seriously ill. Last week, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that one out of every five coronavirus cases in America were in people aged 20 to 44. In hard-hit states like New York and California, nearly half of all new coronavirus cases were in people aged 18 to 49.
This pandemic shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s essential that we all do everything in our power to stop it from spreading, especially practicing social distancing.
Sources for this article include: