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Laura and Kyndel Bennett

After two weeks of aches, chills and some sensory loss, Laura Bennett, 50, and her husband, Kyndel, 48, are finally feeling better.

The married couple live in the Independent, a luxury condominium building in downtown Austin, with their two teen-aged children.

Kyndel is the CEO of Cayetano Development, a local real estate firm. He left work at midday on Friday, March 13, because he wasn't feeling great—some body aches and fatigue—and took a nap.




That evening, he and his wife went to dinner at WuChow, but they mostly stayed home over the weekend, and their kids went to stay at the family's ranch property in Blanco, about 45 miles west of Austin, to avoid catching what their father had.

"They ended up staying for two weeks," Laura said.

By Monday, Laura exhibited the same symptoms as her husband—as did five of the six colleagues who share Kyndel's office space. Many of their partners became ill in the ensuing days.

"We never had fever. We never had a cough. And we never had shortness of breath. And so it never crossed our minds that we had COVID," she said. "We went about our lives. We live in an apartment complex. We were going up and down the elevator. We were doing our thing because we thought we just had some little bug."

With so many people in Kyndel's office affected, however, the couple decided it was likely COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus. One of his colleagues went to the hospital with the same symptoms and, although unable to get tested, was told by a doctor that it was likely COVID-19.

The Bennetts managed their symptoms at home and didn't seek out treatment.

"We had three other people that were in the office that did go to the doctor and weren't able to get tested," Laura said. "So we decided, 'What was the point?'"

By the end of the week, both had one day of respite.

"Suddenly, we all felt great and thought we were done," Laura said.

Then their symptoms returned. Laura lost her sense of taste and smell for a couple days, but neither developed more severe symptoms.

Two of Kyndel's colleagues ended up going to the hospital because of difficulty breathing and a fever that wouldn't break. One is improving, but Laura said she remains worried about the other.

For the last two days, the couple has been symptom-free, but they are concerned about continued spread.

"There's not a whole lot of physical contact happening in an office, and for everyone to have gotten it in 48 hours—from touching the coffee maker or what it was—is kind of terrifying," Laura said.

She and her husband isolated themselves once they realized they were likely infected, but they recommend that others stay home even if they aren't displaying symptoms.

"These numbers of who has it in Travis County are so wrong because nobody can get a test," Laura said. "None of our [group] are showing up on those numbers."


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