Video: The Downes Family Recovers From COVID-19 | Seven Days Vermont

Please support our work!

Donate  Advertise

Video: The Downes Family Recovers From COVID-19 

Published April 23, 2020 at 6:04 p.m.

The Downes family did everything right, and then everything went wrong. Keith and Michelle live on the top floor of a duplex in Burlington with their 5-year-old twins, Felix and Kermit. Keith’s mother, Sharon, also known as Mimi, lives on the bottom floor with a roommate who helps around the house. Sharon lost her voice box due to throat cancer five years ago, and her roommate Chris makes phone calls for her.

When the coronavirus pandemic began, the family went into lockdown. Keith was particularly worried about his 81-year-old mother catching the virus, so they stayed away from Sharon — even though this was hard for all involved. Chris is a veteran who works on a contract for the Vermont National Guard and had to leave the home to do his job. At the end of March, Chris got sick with flu-like symptoms and locked himself in his room. A few days later, Sharon started feeling tired. Then Keith began to feel ill, followed by Michelle. In early April, their son Kermit became unwell, and Sharon brought Chris to the hospital when his symptoms became more severe.

None of them were able to get tested then for the coronavirus. Chris was finally able to get a test in White River Junction at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. On April 6, Chris’ test came back positive for COVID-19. Chris was hospitalized twice and moved into a hotel to quarantine. Keith and his mother were granted tests at the Champlain Valley Exposition in Essex Junction, due to their close contact with Chris. Out of the entire family, Keith’s symptoms were the most severe. He was exhausted, lost his appetite and had a lingering hacking cough. Less than a week later, the results came back: Sharon and Keith were positive for COVID-19.

Sharon’s symptoms were minimal: a low-grade fever and exhaustion. Michelle and the boys were already feeling better. After weeks of staying apart in order to protect Sharon, the family was finally able to come together to celebrate Easter. The one silver lining to this experience was that they all had the coronavirus together. Read the cover story about the Downes family by Courtney Lamdin here.

Got something to say? Send a letter to the editor and we'll publish your feedback in print!

About The Author

Eva Sollberger

Eva Sollberger

Seven Days senior multimedia producer Eva Sollberger has been making her award-winning video series, "Stuck in Vermont," since 2007. New episodes appear on the Seven Days website every other Thursday and air the following night on the WCAX evening news. Sign up at to receive an email alert each time a new one drops. And check these pages every other week for insights on the episodes.


Comments are closed.

From 2014-2020, Seven Days allowed readers to comment on all stories posted on our website. While we've appreciated the suggestions and insights, right now Seven Days is prioritizing our core mission — producing high-quality, responsible local journalism — over moderating online debates between readers.

To criticize, correct or praise our reporting, please send us a letter to the editor or send us a tip. We’ll check it out and report the results.

Online comments may return when we have better tech tools for managing them. Thanks for reading.

Keep up with us Seven Days a week!

Sign up for our fun and informative

All content © 2024 Da Capo Publishing, Inc. 255 So. Champlain St. Ste. 5, Burlington, VT 05401

Advertising Policy  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us  |  About Us  |  Help
Website powered by Foundation