The 21-year-old’s stepmother pleaded with him to stay home, concerned over the father, who was high-risk with underlying health conditions.
“It’s just not the time,” Michelle Zymet told her stepson, begging him to think about his dad, who is overweight and diabetic.
In early June, the young man went out with friends against Zymet’s wishes, and removed his mask while eating and drinking. He developed cold symptoms and, thinking it was the common cold, took over-the-counter medication.
When he heard about a friend testing positive for the virus, he still didn’t believe he had it.
Meanwhile, the virus began its course around the young man’s household, starting with his 14-year-old brother, who is overweight and was wheezing, coughing and lethargic.
The 6-year-old sister had a runny nose, and Zymet was achy, with a fever and chills.
All of them tested positive but it was only the father, 42-year-old John Place, who was hospitalized after four days of fever and constant coughing.
Place has been in the hospital for about three weeks.
In a Facebook post over the weekend, Zymet announced her husband was off the ventilator after more than two weeks.
“I know where I got it from,” Place, speaking from his hospital bed, told Inside Edition. “We were all being careful but one person in my house thought it was more important to go hang out with some friends.”
“They don’t necessarily listen. It could be peer pressure,” Zymet said. “Maybe they think, ‘None of us are sick. We are fine.’ They don’t understand many of us are asymptomatic and are positive carriers of the virus.”
Zymet said she has been called an “awful mother” and an “evil witch” for blaming her stepson, but felt it was important to share the family’s story amid a surge of infections stemming from younger people.
Zymet and her family have been isolating at home. She says her stepson has been helping taking care of the younger children and researching the disease while she juggles work in between calls to the hospital, nurses and doctors.
“He (the stepson) feels an immense amount of guilt and I feel terrible for that because that’s not what we want to do, this isn’t about pointing fingers, this is more of a cautionary tale at this point to really help others,” Zymet told Inside Edition.
She said younger generations need to heed the warnings from their elders; “take the necessary precautions, and just wear the mask.”
The Florida Department of Health on Monday reported 10,347 new COVID-19 cases and 90 additional deaths. There are a total of 360,394 cases in Florida with 5,072 deaths related to the virus.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.