Dad hospitalized with coronavirus after son, 21, apparently infected entire family, mom says

Michelle Zymet said she had pleaded with her son not to go out. "The younger generation, they just don't get it," she said. "We are trying to open everyone’s eyes."

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By Minyvonne Burke

A Florida father is hospitalized with the coronavirus and was on a ventilator after apparently getting infected by his 21-year-old son who went out with friends, the father's wife says.

John Place, 42, of Plantation, about six miles west of Fort Lauderdale, fell ill the day after Father's Day, his wife, Michelle Zymet, said in a Facebook Live video earlier this month.

Place, who Zymet said is diabetic, was placed on a ventilator after his condition worsened. He has since been taken off the ventilator and has improved slightly, according to an update by his wife on Thursday.

"It's been hard. I'm here at home," Zymet said with emotion in her earlier video. "We can't leave the house; we can't see him; we can't be with him."

Zymet said that the entire family, including a 14-year-old son and 6-year-old daughter, have tested positive for the coronavirus. They were infected after their older son, Zymet's stepson, became ill and learned that a friend he had hung out with was infected with the virus, the mother said.

Michelle Zymet, right, with her husband John Place and their daughter Cyann.Michelle Zymet / via AP

Zymet said in an interview Tuesday on MSNBC that she had pleaded with her son not to go out because she was worried about the family getting sick.

Her husband was at risk of becoming seriously ill with the coronavirus because he has diabetes, she said. Doctors have also said he is obese, which is an additional risk factor.

Zymet has said she wanted to share their story to help young people realize the dangers.

"The younger generation, they just don't get it. They don't care; they don't think. I'm not quite sure what it is they don't get," she said on MSNBC. "Our son, he was cooped up for a while and when the state lifted up and you could get out again and we weren't in quarantine, he decided he wanted to go out and hang out with his friends."

"We are trying to open everyone’s eyes that by not wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and by not social distancing you are putting yourself at risk and of those at home that you love ... each and every day," she wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday.

Zymet said in her Facebook video that her older son developed symptoms after going out and initially thought he had a cold. He didn't tell the family he was sick. When her 14-year-old son started to feel ill, the older one came forward and told his parents that a friend had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The family all fell ill, but Zymet said her symptoms were minor.

"I had a sore throat, a little cough, but again that was the severity of my symptoms at that moment," she said on her video.

Place was not so lucky. He first developed a fever before his condition quickly worsened, Zymet said.

"He could barely open his eyes," she said in her video. "Very lethargic, so I drove him to a test site and we got him tested. ... A couple days go by and finally at that point after four days of having the fever he could barely get off the couch, move."

Michelle's husband John Place.Michelle Zymet / via Facebook

She said she took her husband to a hospital emergency room, where he was admitted and then moved to the intensive care unit.

"You're not allowed into the room with them because I'm COVID, he's COVID. So, yes all of our family members were positive for COVID when we did get the results back. It's just something that you just never expect to happen and to the severity that it's gotten to," she said.

Zymet could not immediately be reached by NBC News on Friday.

Cases of the coronavirus have been on the rise among younger people in the U.S., including in Ohio since the state loosened its stay-at-home order.

Dr. Stephen Blatt, medical director for infectious disease at TriHealth Hospitals in Cincinnati, told NBC News earlier this month that "the problem is that people are not wearing masks."

He said most new cases in the state are young people who he thinks "just got sick of not going out and seeing their friends."

"I think they saw that things were getting better and just said, ‘OK, let’s go out.’ We have to get the message out that this is not over and it’s not going to be over for awhile," he said.

In the U.S., Arizona, Florida and Texas in particular have reported an explosion of new cases.