Georgia State student’s grandfather tests positive for the coronavirus: Here’s how she’s coping

Georgia State student Alexandria White celebrated her 26th birthday on March 16 with a “corona-themed” family get together. 

Four days ago, her grandfather went to Emory University Hospital coughing up blood and tested positive for COVID-19.

Today, White posted on Instagram that both her grandparents were in the hospital for COVID-19 and documented the rest of her family getting tested outside of a clinic.

White said her life has completely changed in a matter of weeks.

Her grandmother was checked into Emory last night around 1 a.m.

“My grandparents are very active people. Up until a week ago, my grandfather was going out everywhere and wasn’t thinking anything of it,” White said. 

White’s grandfather is considered a high-risk patient because of his medical history, which also has her family worried.

“He has underlying issues, he was already dealing with heart failure and heart disease,” she said.

White’s grandfather was separated from her family when they went to check him into the hospital.

“From the time that you walk [patients] into the lobby, you cannot go with them,” she said. “[Doctors] quarantine them, and they can’t have anybody around them whatsoever.”

White is worried about how the isolation will affect her grandparents.

“I believe that your frame of mind has a lot to do with your recovery,” she said. “My grandparents are married, and they can’t even be in the same hospital room with one another.”

She’s also worried about what could happen if her grandfather doesn’t recover.

“If this is a situation where he won’t recover, I wouldn’t want him to be in the hospital by himself,” she said. “We just don’t want him being in isolation alone.”

White’s family has been doing research on experimental treatments for patients that suffer from COVID-19, but they haven’t been able to find one that he can try because of his prior medical history.

Although they think that doctors are doing the best they can, White says she has an underlying fear that he won’t get the care he needs.

“With all of the rhetoric going around [in the media], I’m scared and wondering if [doctors] are paying as much attention to him because he’s older and because he has these underlying health issues or if they’re more focused on people that have a better chance [of survival],” she said.

This has not just affected White’s grandparents; her mother recently started showing symptoms as well, including a cough.

White said that she was not practicing social distancing before this because of her job, and her parents could not stay at home because they had to work.

“My dad is working on a media team for the [U.S.] Census [Bureau],” she said. “He has been traveling five days out of the week to Florida and to other places on planes up until recently.”

White is the general manager for Georgia State’s Neo Network and was working on a Marvel movie set. She started to feel uneasy about not staying home a week before her grandfather was admitted.

Four months prior to the outbreak, White had anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) replacement surgery, kidney stones and an ovarian cyst. She worries that her prior health issues will make her more susceptible to severe symptoms if she’s positive.

“I’m going through a significant amount of health stuff right now, and I’m scared as a 26-year-old that [COVID-19] could cause major problems,” she said.

White and the rest of her family went to get tested this morning.

“We went to a clinic, and they were prepared to [test us] in our cars, and we didn’t set foot in the clinic,” she said.

She described the test as a long, thin cotton swab that was stuck into their nasal cavities. White says it was uncomfortable yet not painful for her, while her mother said that it burned.

“We [will] hear back in three days with results,” she said. “If we are positive, they’re going to start us on a treatment of a Z-Pak and steroid treatment.”

White’s first thought was to contact all her friends and family that have come in contact with her grandparents recently.

“I had to go around to all of my friends sending out mass information about where they can get tested and how much it would cost with and without insurance,” she said.

She said that many of her friends have taken it well.

“Most of my friends have not been upset with me, and … I’m a little alarmed about how not worried they are,” White said.

However, some of her friends are worried about not having access to testing due to financial constraints.

“Some of my friends that were exposed don’t have insurance, and they are concerned about that,” White said. “They can’t afford to get tested or can’t afford to get treatment.” 

Currently, White’s grandfather is in stable condition, but his oxygen levels have decreased. His doctors remain confident he’ll recover because he has not needed a ventilator. White’s grandmother is also in stable condition and is showing signs of recovery.

White recommends that everyone take this seriously, even if they don’t know anyone affected. 

“Don’t think you are somebody that this cannot happen to,” she said. “We as young people sometimes feel like this really doesn’t apply to us.”

White thinks that the pandemic will get worse before it gets better, and everyone will need to make life adjustments in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“Everyone keeps talking about coronavirus and the ‘new normal’ our lives have become,” she said. “They need to figure out what this new normal is for them and keeping in mind it isn’t so much about you, but the next person that could be seriously affected.”