COVID-19 survivor shares her story

Published 7:00 am Saturday, June 6, 2020

For Vinner Scott, COVID-19 is more than a public health crisis—it resulted in a personal tragedy. Scott lost her mother Earnestine Johns Carter to COVID-19 in April. Both Scott and her husband Troy also became ill, but have since recovered.

In February, Scott’s father was having difficulty breathing at night. One Sunday the family came home to find that he had passed away.

“He was having difficulty breathing, but at that time we had no idea about COVID,” said Scott. “It wasn’t really here in Picayune yet.”

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Scott does not know if the coronavirus contributed to her father’s death. She also does not know exactly where her mother came in contact with COVID-19.

At the beginning of April, Scott’s mother attended a party with some friends.

“A lot of people at the party ended up being sick and some of them also passed away. I don’t know where it came from, but I know the community of people there got sick,” said Scott.

When Scott noticed her mother was sick, she immediately put the house on lockdown. Her husband stopped going to work. Scott, her husband and her mother all isolated in separate bedrooms. Her mother had a fever and started coughing.

“After my mother got sick, for about a day or two my husband became very ill. He became feverish, coughing, the whole nine yards, everything,” said Scott.

Doctors suggested she take them to be tested for COVID-19. She tried calling community testing locations in Picayune, but none had tests available. So she went to the Hattiesburg Cough Clinic.

“When we got there, my mother’s fever was 103. She had chills, coughing,” said Scott.

Both her husband Troy and her mother were tested for AB influenza, said Scott. Her mom was diagnosed with a lower respiratory infection and her husband was diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection. Scott says that both her mother and husband were verbally told that they were tested for COVID-19, but when she followed up with the clinic she was told that the pair did not meet CDC requirements to receive a COVID-19 test.

Scott said her mom was having trouble breathing so she took short quick breaths and did not remember to feed herself.

“She didn’t know how to put a spoon up to her mouth,” said Scott.

So Scott took her to Highland Community Hospital.

“She was scared to go there because she and I did everything together and she knew that she was going to be by herself,” said Scott. “I said ‘Mom I have to take you. I don’t want to take you. I can’t help you mom.’ This is the first time that I couldn’t really help my mother.”

When they arrived, her mother’s temperature was 97.5, so she almost wasn’t admitted, but when Scott explained that she was having trouble remembering things, she was given an exam.

Scott’s mother was admitted to the hospital for low sodium, she said, but still was not running a fever. However, when they tested later her temperature had gone up to 103. The hospital then did a COVID-19 test and subsequently diagnosed Scott’s mother with the virus, said Scott.

Scott had been so focused on her mother, she did not realize that she also had chills and trouble breathing.

“It was like somebody had put their hand around my throat and was choking me,” she said.

Her husband took her to the emergency room, and Scott was also admitted to the hospital. Her mother, her aunt and one of her closest friends were all in the hospital at the same time for COVID-19. Her mom and best friend were both in the ICU, and her mother kept sending nurses to check on her best friend.

“That’s the kind of mom I had. She was trying to take care of everybody else,” said Scott.

When Earnestine Johns Carter’s condition grew more serious, she was transferred to Forrest General. Her lungs eventually collapsed and her kidneys shutdown before she passed away on April 11.

“She never made it back home,” said Scott.

Scott and her husband slowly recovered. They remained quarantined and wore masks to pick up prescriptions or visit the doctor. Scott said one woman mocked her facemask.

“But it’s not for me, I have COVID-19 already. This is to keep you and anybody else who I come in contact with from getting it,” said Scott.

She is finally done with quarantine and has recovered from COVID-19. In the first weeks of her quarantine, Scott’s church and neighbors helped out, leaving food and groceries at the door.

“First Cornerstone were heroes for us. They really saw us through, and my mom’s church, Rose of Sharon Church of God in Christ. They made sure that we had everything that we needed. It was because of our community absolutely that we have made it this far,” said Scott.

Scott had to have her mother cremated and is waiting to have a proper memorial service for her.