WINONA, Minnesota — Vera Mueller of Winona celebrated her 104th birthday on March 23. Two days later, she tested positive for COVID-19.
"She'd just tell us that she was so sick and everything and didn't feel good. That was about it," said Bob Mueller, Vera's son.
Bob said his mom had a fever, a hard time breathing and a cough. She was on oxygen and quarantined to a different room at Sauer Health Care in Winona.
"She always kept saying, 'I want to get back to my own room.' And I think that gave her the willpower, maybe, to keep fighting," said Bob, in a phone interview.
Even before Vera tested positive, family and friends weren't allowed inside the facility because of COVID-19 visitor restrictions.
They've been visiting her outside her window. On April 5, the nurses told Bob that Vera's fever hadn't spiked in the last couple of days. The next day, Vera had been moved back to her room.
"Just by their excellent taking care of her, she pulled through it," Bob said.
Vera is one of the oldest—if not the oldest—person in the nation to have recovered from COVID-19. An Oregon man—also 104—survived the virus; he's 9 days younger than Vera.
"Grandma's still pretty weak. This has taken its toll on her. It's been hard for her. We just take it one day at a time here." Granddaughter Amy Mueller said.
Right now, the family is focused on Vera's recovery. According to Bob, she is not aware of everything that's happening right now.
"That's the bittersweet part of this. We're happy for her but at the same time ... she's lost a couple of her friends down there to this who were younger than her. So it's really hard," Bob said.
Bob has not been in the same room with his mom since March 15.
"It's been really difficult because we can only go and look at her through the window," Amy said.
Vera has three kids, six grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
"It's been her faith and her family that's helped her through all this," Bob said. "104... we treasure every day that we get to see her yet."
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The state of Minnesota has set up a hotline for general questions about coronavirus at 651-201-3920 or 1-800-657-3903, available 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.