WINONA, Minn. — She might be the oldest COVID-19 survivor in the country.
Vera Mueller, a resident of Sauer Health Care in Winona, was diagnosed with the coronavirus on March 25, two days after her 104th birthday, according to her son, Bob Mueller.
"We were there this morning," Bob Mueller said Thursday. "She’s smiling and waving. For being 104, you never know. We take it a day at a time."
Mueller said access to the facility has been restricted, and most contact with his mother has been through the window of her room. That changed after she was diagnosed with COVID-19 and was quarantined in the facility. She was put on oxygen and given Tylenol to reduce her fever and for pain, but as far as her son knows, no other measures were taken to combat the virus.
"She was pretty sick until last Monday," Mueller said. "They moved her out of quarantine and back to her own room. She was pretty sick that week or week and a half."
Mueller said his mother's fever came down on March 28, but she's had a cough since then, although that too is getting better. Eventually, she was well enough to move back to her own room.
Winona County's Health and Human Services Department does list among its COVID-19 patients a person who is 104 years old.
Sara Blair, administrator at Sauer Health Care, did verify that they had a resident who is 104, had contracted the virus and is now recovered.
"The Sauer home did a fantastic job taking care of these people," Mueller said, adding that he understands the home has had more than one person with the virus. "We never had to worry. They were doing their very best."
As for her place in the record books, Mueller said his mother is about a week older than an Oregon man, Bill Lapschies, who also is 104 but who, according to news reports, celebrated his birthday on April 1. Several news outlets also reported that a Dutch woman, Cornelia Ras, might be the oldest survivor of the disease in the world at age 107.
Still, Mueller said he and his family are thrilled Vera came through and is a survivor, no matter if she makes the record books or not.
In fact, since her March 23 birthday needed to be celebrated through the window, he said they all – Vera especially – are looking forward to celebrating her birthday in a more fitting manner.
"After we get through this, we’ll still have her birthday," Mueller said. "She’s looking forward to that."