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Utah Mom Warning Others After Two College Kids Return Home With Virus

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A mother is warning other parents to be careful after two of her college kids returned home last month, unknowingly carrying COVID-19.

“We see things happening in the world and we think, ‘Oh yeah, that’s happening. That’s too bad,’” said Brooke Shirley. “But then when it happens to you or someone you know who gets it, then it’s real.”

Weeks into the start of the fall semester, things got real for Shirley and her family.

“It totally affects your whole life,” she said.

It started when her son, who’s at Brigham Young University, came home Labor Day weekend for a short visit. Everything seemed fine. And then he left.

“I took him somewhere. Dropped him off. He had a drink in there and I took a drink of his drink,” Shirley said.

Not long after he called his mom to tell her, “I can’t taste … I think I have coronavirus.”

He did have it. So Shirley, her husband and youngest daughter settled in for quarantine until they could get tested.

“I was so nervous that I had given it to people because I didn’t know,” she said.

They were tested a few days later. The results came back negative. Shirley, who works as a caregiver for a woman with Alzheimer’s, was very relieved. And that was the end of it. Or so they thought.

“And then the next day, the coronavirus was back in our house,” she said.

This time, tagging along with her daughter from Dixie State University, who by all appearances seemed healthy.

“[She] had been home less than 24 hours and her friend called and said, ‘We have coronavirus.’ And I wanted to cry,” Shirley said.

Her daughter got tested the next day. The result was positive, and she was banished to the basement, relying in part on text messaging to communicate with the rest of the family.

“I felt so bad as a mom cause I’m like, you’re stuck. There’s nothing we can do for you but bring you food,” Shirley said. “It’s a real stressful thing because you think of everybody you’ve been around.”

Again she, her husband and other daughter were stuck at home. Away from work and school. Away from people. And again, each one of them managed to escape the sickness, but this time, with a new perspective on the virus and its inconvenient impact.

“Moral of the story is, if you have college kids and you want them to come home, you’ve got to really, really think about it,” Shirley said. “They unknowingly could be carrying this virus. Like my kids had no idea.”

Early in September, Dr. Anthony Fauci urged colleges not to send students home during outbreaks to avoid spreading the virus beyond campuses.

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