A father of two from Georgia is speaking out about his battle with the COVID-19 as his wife, who was also diagnosed with the coronavirus, continues to fight for her life in the hospital.
Kyle Abernathy said he and his wife April were shocked to learn that their flu and pneumonia diagnoses were actually severe cases of coronavirus, according to a March 13 Facebook post.
“We never traveled,” wrote Kyle, who works as the principal of Cave Spring Elementary School. He shares 8-year-old daughter Amelia and 6-year-old son Corban with April, according to their GoFundMe campaign.
“To us, ‘C’ virus wasn’t an option,” he added. “We washed our hands. Trust me, I always tell my three at home to wash up!”
Following their initial diagnoses, Kyle said he and April were admitted to Kindred Hospital in Rome, Georgia, but noted that his wife’s condition was much worse than his.
“She is critical but stable, requiring a ventilator and sedation. Her body needs strength,” he said. “She is my bride and I miss her. I want to be able to see her when she’s better.”
GoFundMe April and Kyle Abernathy
“I am on oxygen now 24/7. I have a hard time breathing without it and get very winded moving around,” Kyle continued. “I basically just lay down all day to keep from having breathing problems and coughing fits. I am on fluids and lots of meds.”
A day later, Kyle updated his followers on Facebook and told them he had the opportunity to spend time with April, who was being transferred to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
“I got to sit with my bride from 1-8 pm. It has taken a lot out of me,” he wrote. “[April] will receive specialized help to get through this nasty virus… I told her I needed her to pull through and to fight hard like she and I always have.”
“Pray for strength in her lungs and continued organ function,” he added. “Pray for a broken fever and for antibiotics to kill any infection that resides.”
Kyle also used his posts to encourage others to take whatever steps necessary in order to prevent themselves from catching the coronavirus.
“We got the virus in a crowded place, no fault of anyone’s!” he wrote. “If you think the media is sensationalizing this, go ahead. But think about the 38-40 confirmed cases in GA, including us, before you check yourself ‘safe.’ This is an opportunity for us to pray, to lift each other up, and stay vigilant.” (As of Monday afternoon, there were 99 confirmed cases in Georgia and one death, the New York Times reported.)
“One day I’ll get to stand by my bride again. One day we will sing again. One day our family of four will be whole,” he added.
In the U.S., there are now at least 3,927 confirmed cases and 68 people have died, according to the New York Times. Worldwide, there are now at least 173,800 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 7,281 deaths.
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-2019, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.
In the wake of April’s transfer, her sister Amanda Hebert set up a GoFundMe page to help the Abernathy family cope with the financial burden of medical bills. So far, the page has raised over $12,000.
Though Kyle has made gradual progress with his recovery, Hebert said on Sunday that April’s case remained severe and she was “fighting for her life” at the hospital.
“So much is unknown at this time,” Hebert wrote on the fundraiser. “The hospital stays are indefinite for now.”
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She also noted on the fundraiser their young daughter and son currently remain quarantined and under the care of their family, and that the support of the community would help them get through this difficult time.
“Both April and Kyle are very loved members of their community and especially by their families,” she wrote. “I know bills are accumulating and with so much unknown, please, if you feel so led, donate here to help alleviate the financial burden on them caused by this pandemic.”
“We have been overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and prayers that our family has been receiving from around the world,” Hebert added. “Let’s continue to pour love into their lives.”
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.