A Texas councilman and his husband died two days apart after contracting COVID-19.
Live Oak Councilman Anthony Brooks, an employee at the San Antonio Military Medical Center and a military veteran, and Phillip Tsai-Brooks, a local business owner, died early last week at Methodist Hospital Metropolitan in San Antonio.
“There are two family members we will miss, and will never get back,” Robert Tsai, one of Phillip’s brothers, said, according to NBC affiliate WOAI-TV. “It’s not worth going out and socializing and risking that chance of getting it.”
Robert Tsai said the deaths of Brooks, 42, and Tsai-Brooks, 52, should serve as a warning that the coronavirus can be deadly, even to those who are otherwise healthy and relatively young.
Anthony Tsai, another brother of Phillip's, said he was “in disbelief” over the passing of the couple and echoed Robert’s plea for social distancing in a post shared on Facebook.
“We urge EVERYONE to stay home! Stop the spread! You don't want to go through what we are going through. Rest in peace Tony and Phillip,” he wrote.
The couple leaves behind Tsai-Brooks' mother, who lived with them and has also tested positive for COVID-19, according to WOAI-TV. Alfred Tsai, another brother, told the station that their mother, who is quarantined in the home she had shared with her son and son-in-law, is now forced to grieve alone.
“It’s very hard,” Alfred Tsai, who lives in California, said of his mother’s grief. “We had to arrange for my other brothers that live in San Antonio to stand outside the house while we tell her the news. That’s the heartbreaking side. We can’t go in. My brothers can’t go in and comfort her. She’s standing in the doorway crying.”
His brothers said Phillip Tsai-Brooks went to the emergency room late last month after experiencing shortness of breath and was subsequently put on a ventilator. His husband was at home at the time after being diagnosed with a low-grade pneumonia, the brothers said. Initially, no one in the family suspected the couple had contracted the coronavirus, but by the time the tests came back positive, the two men were getting increasingly ill.
In his final post on Facebook, shared on March 26, Philip Tsai-Brooks confirmed he had tested positive and was experiencing low oxygen levels, a low heart rate, shortness of breath, vomiting and a high fever. He said he expected to be in the ER for just “a couple of days” and would then begin to self-quarantine at home. He died in the hospital a few weeks later, on April 12, Easter Sunday, two days before his husband passed away.
“Tony Brooks and Phillip Tsai loved each other so much, and they left this world together,” Alfred Tsai told The San Antonio Express-News. “It’s a love story that ended too soon in this world, but in heaven, it will last for eternity.”
Live Oak Mayor Mary Dennis mourned the loss of the two men in a public Facebook post shared late last week.
“We are forever grateful for both Anthony’s and Phillip’s service to our Live Oak Community and to our country,” she said. “May God Bless their family and all who were blessed to call both men ‘friend.’”
Since the coronavirus outbreak became public late last year, it has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the United States alone and over 168,000 globally.