From dancing to delta variant: One Austin man’s COVID-19 battle and the message from his loved ones

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An army veteran, University of Texas alum and avid dancer — now a COVID-19 patient.

Elaina Cary-Fehr said her father, Isaac Cary Jr., has been hospitalized for COVID-19 for almost exactly a month now, after receiving his Johnson & Johnson vaccine in March. She said staff at Baylor Scott & White, where he’s being treated, informed them he caught the delta variant.

Since then, Isaac has battled pneumonia, being placed on his stomach to relieve pressure on his lungs and being put on a ventilator.

Elaina said her father is now stable and taking “baby steps toward recovery” but is still in a medically-induced coma.

It’s a far cry from the energetic man he used to be, the one who danced at different Austin venues like Far Out Lounge, Antone’s and Continental Club.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking. He’s so vibrant and full of life,” Elaina said.

Elaina and Isaac’s best friend, Lisa Bovee, believe he got COVID-19 while doing what he loved one night: dancing.

  • Elaina Cary-Fehr said her father is being treated at Baylor Scott & White in Temple, where a nurse informed them he was battling the delta variant. (Photo: Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)
  • (Courtesy of Elaina Cary-Fehr)

“Delta variant is on the move, and it’s moving fast,” said Dr. Mark Casanova, part of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force.

He said vaccines do offer some protection against even the delta variant.

“Are they as protective as the original strain? No, we do lose some effectiveness from the vaccine, but still very protective,” Casanova said.

He said data against the original COVID-19 strain shows if a one vaccinated person (person A) gets COVID-19, the chances of passing it on to another vaccinated person (person B) was 0.08%.

But Casanova said we don’t know how far the protection goes against delta.

“We don’t have enough data to tell us what are the chances of that subsequent hop from person A to person B, whether person B is vaccinated or not,” Casanova said.

That’s why he urges even immunized people to be cautious with this new, more contagious variant.

“As opposed to the original variant of COVID-19 that would pass to two to three individuals for every one who was infected, this is now passing to five to eight individuals for every individual who is infected,” he explained.

It’s why Elaina and Bovee want to share Isaac’s story.

“I just want to make sure that people understand that this could be your family as well… your best friend, your loved one, and you just need to be careful,” Elaina said. “There’s so much that we just don’t know. And I would hate to see this happen to anybody else.”

Both she and Bovee said they still wear their masks, wash their hands and try to socially distance. They encourage their neighbors to do the same.

“I think that’s what happened with Isaac. He thought, well, there’s, you know, a place that I love to dance, they’re doing the dancing outside, like, that’s probably safe,” Bovee said. “I think some of us have a little false sense of security.”

Bovee last visited Isaac on Thursday.

“Last night when I left there, just kind of had my little break down,” she said. “I just said, ‘okay, I’ll be back tomorrow. I love you.'”

Guests are limited, and Elaina hopes her dad, despite being in a medically-induced coma, heard her last phone call.

“I love him so much, and I miss him, and I can’t wait to see him again,” Elaina said.

Bovee has organized a GoFundMe page to help Isaac’s family.

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