95-year-old WWII veteran survives COVID-19: 'You do what you're told and you get right through it'

Bill Kelly has lived through the Great Depression and served in the South Pacific during World War II. Now, at 95 years old, he’s also fully recovered from COVID-19 — much to the delight of generations of his family and the rest of the nation, as we face the uncertainties of this global pandemic.

“My theory is when you're born, what's going on in the world, you deal with it,” Bill tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “And that's what’s happened here in my life ... you do what you’re told and you get right through it.”

Bill, who lives with his granddaughter Rose Etherington, 41, his grandson-in-law Isaac Etherington, 42, his daughter Susan Nelson, 65, and his two great-grandsons, Paxton, 5, and Chaston, 11 months, recently completed a two-week quarantine in Yamhill County, Oregon.

On March 15, Bill started displaying mild symptoms. “He just looked a little off, and he mentioned he wasn't feeling very well,” says Rose. “So I was like, well, let's, let's take your temperature. So I did, and it was a low-grade, 100.7 degrees.”

Due to his age and several pre-existing medical issues — including kidney disease, a congenital heart condition, and high blood pressure — the family decided to take him to the hospital immediately.

“My mom actually took him in,” Rose says. “It was kind of scary because they just took him and sent her home. Like we don't want anyone to be here. And they took him, they kept him overnight.”

Bill’s symptoms subsided by the next day, so he was released from the hospital on March 16. But on March 17, the family received the news that he had tested positive for COVID-19. 

“I work in the emergency medical field,” says Isaac Etherington, Kelly’s grandson-in-law. “And in the previous few days had been ... flying [with] some patients that were potentially positive. So the hospital deemed it worthwhile to give Grandpa Bill the test.”

Bill was one of the first COVID-19 cases in Yamhill County, Oregon, where there have been 18 cases as of April 2. Isaac also received a test for the virus, but it came back negative. No one else in the family was tested or ever displayed any symptoms, but they were all instructed to quarantine for two weeks.

The family explained that Bill, for the most part, was restricted to his bedroom. His symptoms included a low-grade fever, fatigue and loss of appetite. 

“There were a few days where … we were really worried,” says Rose. “He looked very ashen, and you could just tell that he was slipping.” But Bill’s spirits never sank. 

“In the morning I've got this record of, it’s called the party record,” says Bill. “And it has the chicken dance ... and [I] turned that on ... so it wakes the whole neighborhood, I think, but you gotta get going, you know?”

After the first week of quarantine, Bill’s symptoms subsided, and he was able to rejoin the rest of the family in the house. “We’re honestly really grateful that grandpa was able to come home where he was surrounded by family,” says Rose. “Even just hearing us, I think really gave a lot of extra morale and strength.”

As the two-week quarantine came to an end, Bill made a full recovery, and thankfully, the rest of the family has shown no symptoms of the virus. 

“Grandpa's gone through some tough times,” says Rose. “He doesn't complain about things. He just sees this a hard time, we're going to get through this. He has that fight.”

For the latest coronavirus news and updates, follow along at https://news.yahoo.com/coronavirus. According to experts, people over 60 and those who are immunocompromised continue to be the most at risk. If you have questions, please reference the CDC and WHO’s resource guides.