Jessica DuPreez and her fiancé of nearly three years, Micheal Freedy, wanted to give it a year before they rolled up their sleeves for a COVID-19 vaccine. But time wasn’t on their side.
DuPreez and Freedy were together for over seven years and met as co-workers at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. DuPreez loved how Freedy “could always just light up a room when he walked in.”
“His presence was always just so positive and so larger-than-life,” DuPreez told USA TODAY. “He was just awesome to be around.”
DuPreez and Freedy thought they were being cautious by waiting to get their shots. DuPreez never considered herself an anti-vaxxer.
She said the newness of the COVID-19 vaccine and the speed that it had been produced gave her and Freedy pause.
“I do believe in vaccines; I do believe wholeheartedly in this one,” DuPreez said. “We just wanted to wait like one year to see what everybody’s reactions were.”
While DuPreez and Freedy put off getting vaccinated, the couple pursued their travel plans.
About three weeks ago, DuPreez and Freedy, along with their five kids, left their Las Vegas, Nevada, home for a two-day trip to San Diego, California: a small getaway from the desert heat. DuPreez said it was an amazing time, especially for their children.
“None of our kids had ever been to the ocean, so they were loving that and they got to ride the rides at Belmont Park,” DuPreez said.
Freedy and three of his five kids spend time at the beach during a trip to San Diego, California.
Freedy returned home with a “brutal” sunburn, purplish red in color with water blisters, and a number of symptoms: lack of appetite, restlessness, feverishness, dizziness and nausea. He stayed home from work the next two days: he couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and was “hot to the touch.” But DuPreez said there was little concern because they chalked up these symptoms to Freedy’s sunburn, as they thought he had come down with a case of sun poisoning.
DuPreez said Freedy went to the ER three days following their return from San Diego as his symptoms persisted. She said not much was made of Freedy’s condition at the time; the doctor who saw him just told him to drink some Gatorade. Freedy went to work that night.
However, DuPreez said Freedy continued feeling unwell and called in sick the next two days. Freedy visited a different ER at the beginning of the following week, where a different conclusion was reached about his condition – Freedy tested positive for COVID-19.