In addition to dealing with the fear of losing a loved one, Albert Trousdale's family is agonizing over not being able to be at his side while he fights for his life.
"It's just hard with my daddy up there and we can't be with him," his daughter, Julie Trousdale, said Tuesday. "That's the hardest part. We're all quarantined and separated. We're just praying and hoping that he makes it up there without anybody's support."
The 78-year-old Elgin man is in serious but stable condition at Huntsville Hospital after being diagnosed with the COVID-19 coronavirus. He was the second Lauderdale County resident to be diagnosed. As of Tuesday, three have been diagnosed.
Julie said they cannot communicate with her father right now because doctors are keeping him in a deep sleep to prevent him from fighting the ventilator he is on. He also had tried to breathe over the ventilator, which doctors do not want.
"They want the ventilator to do the work so his lungs can rest and heal," she said.
The family is unsure how he became exposed to the virus. Julie said her father and mother, Nancy Trousdale, usually stay home.
"We've all been really careful about washing and cleaning doorknobs and all of that," Julie said. "We just can't figure out why — of all the people in Lauderdale County who are running around doing stuff — he'd get it. He mostly stays home with my mother."
She said the family wonders if this is connected to a hip replacement surgery her father had in January at Huntsville Hospital. In addition, he is the treasurer at their church and had written a check earlier this month to someone who had come by asking for money.
Also, in the days before his health started diminishing, her father — a military veteran — had been to the pharmacy at the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville to pick up a prescription. It was reported last week that a civilian employee at the pharmacy had contracted the virus.
Julie said Albert's symptoms started with aches and a low-grade fever. On March 16, a doctor's visit revealed he had blood clots in his ankle and groin area so he was hospitalized.
"Then he got worse and worse," Julie said.
He was place in intensive care a week ago.
The family has set up a Facebook page, "Albert Trousdale's Recovery and Updates," to keep everyone informed on his progress, and has been moved by the response.
"We've had so many people come on there and leave messages," Julie said. "We've got people who come there every day. I told mom when he gets back, his head's gonna swell up when he finds out how many people love him and checked up on him."
The family is prevented from being with him due to the highly contagious nature of the disease. His son and daughter-in-law, Matthew and Nicole Trousdale, are among members of the family who are quarantined at home, since Matthew had sat with his father at the hospital to give his mother a break before learning of the coronavirus diagnosis.
"The last time I saw him, I kissed him on the forehead and told him I was gone and probably can't come back," Matthew said. "I know it's rough on mom, but he's in the best place he can be."
He added that the community has offered to help in any way possible. On Tuesday night, Walton's Restaurant delivered a meal to his mother.
"That's probably the only meal she hasn't had to cook in days," Matthew said.
Nicole said the Facebook page has helped provide information and eased things up for her mother-in-law.
"We had to make the Facebook page because so many people were calling Nancy, she couldn't get off the phone," she said.
Julie hopes this also brings awareness about the virus.
"People just need to know," Julie said. "They need to take this seriously. I've driven past places and seen people out doing stuff and running around. They're not even using social distancing like they should. I just wish everybody would take heed and stay home and get this thing out of here."
Albert's family is trying to remain optimistic.
"We're praying for him," Julie said. "He's such a fighter. He and my mother, they've been married since they were 15. They're really, really close. It's just killing her that she can't be there with him.
"One of the nurses played a voicemail message she (Mom) sent him. Even though he's under, I feel like he was aware of that. I hope everybody will pray for him so we can get him home."