West Virginia couple on the mend from coronavirus

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. (AP) — A West Virginia couple are celebrating their recovery from the new coronavirus.

James Vigil learned from health officials on Friday that he would be cleared of the virus on Saturday, while Carolyn Vigil, who became sick after her husband, was told she could expect a similar bill of health on Monday, The Journal reported.

“Happy Hour for two at Casa de Vigil!” Carolyn Vigil said Friday night in a Facebook post featuring a photo of the smiling couple.

After getting the call, the couple marked the news with a few sips of wine.

“It was like our wedding day,” she told the newspaper, adding that she was still feeling a little weak but better.

Now they are making plans to help others.

A network of U.S. hospitals is awaiting permission from the Food and Drug Administration to begin large studies of blood infusions from patients who have recovered from the virus as a possible treatment for the sick and as vaccine-like temporary protection for people at high risk of infection.

While there is no guarantee it would work, the Vigils are willing to try, and are making plans to donate their antibody-rich plasma for research or to aid those who are sick.

“We’re trying to give back by sharing information and sharing our antibodies,” Carolyn Vigil said.

The couple also plan to support community food banks through regional nonprofit groups.

James Vigil was the state’s first reported case of coronavirus on March 17. His wife soon followed.

“We have to do everything together,” Carolyn Vigil quipped.

Carolyn Vigil said her husband had preexisting conditions when he was diagnosed and his condition worsened over a 10-day period. She was worried not only for him, but for her adult son, who is on the autism spectrum. She also was concerned for herself and how she would take care of the others.

“I wasn’t sure how sick I was going to get,” she said. “I was watching (James Vigil) deteriorate. I just kept wondering when we would get better and fearing, ‘Is he going to get better?’ You see the news and wonder, ‘Is he going to become one of those statistics on the other side?’”

The couple struggled to get tested in a state where residents were turned away or had to navigate onerous bureaucracies while suffering symptoms. It was that way across the country, where testing for the virus initially was limited. The number of confirmed cases in the state had grown to at least 113 as of Sunday and health officials confirmed the first death statewide, an 88-year-old woman from Marion County.

Once diagnosed, the Vigils recuperated at home. Medical personnel monitored them daily. Carolyn Vigil said the virus made her feel much worse than any illness she’s dealt with previously.

“You sort of feel like something’s taking over your body,” she said. “It’s like a really, really bad case of the flu. I’ve never felt this sick, and I didn’t have a bad case. It was much worse for him.”

Carolyn Vigil said the family was touched by the outpouring of community support

“It’s been phenomenal,” she said. “I know we live in a great community, but I was overwhelmed with the support. It’s been an amazing experience in the best of humanity.”

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Tyler Barker is currently the News Director and Digital Content Manager for WOAY-TV. He was promoted to this job in Mid-November. He still will fill in on weather from time to time. You can follow Tyler on Facebook and Twitter @wxtylerb. Have any news tips or weather questions? Email him at tbarker@woay.com