Louie Fasbinder, 69, started having symptoms for what he believed to be the flu around March 1; however, he had something much more severe and would not be officially diagnosed until March 19: COVID-19.

Fasbinder, who was an otherwise healthy adult before his symptoms started, is not what one would picture when thinking of a “high risk” individual for COVID-19.  The beloved former dog catcher of Franklin County could be found most of the time either playing golf, cards at the American Legion, gambling at the casino or catching the latest gossip at Nixies.  His favorite things beyond that are simple--his daughter, Brandy Todd, President Donald Trump and his cat Woogie. 

When Todd called to check in on him, as she always does, on March 11, she knew he was ill just by the sound of his voice.

“He sounded terrible when I talked to him the day before (Wednesday),” Todd said. “I told him if he wasn't better by the next day (Thursday, March 12), he was going to the doc. He's stubborn, obviously.”

Fasbinder's symptoms started with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. But then it gradually turned into what he thought was the full-blown flu, which included fatigue, body aches, coughing and high fever. Even with no improvements, Fasbinder, being stubborn as an “old mule,” as Todd describes him, still did not go to the doctor that Thursday during the day as Todd had instructed.  

Thursday night, Todd had just laid down to go to bed, still committed to getting her “daddy” (as she lovingly calls him) to the doctor on Friday morning, when she received the phone call that would start a whirlwind and change her life forever.

“Aunt Penny (Fasbinder's sister) called and told me that my cousin Chris had picked Dad up and carried him to the car, and they were on their way to the hospital,” Todd explained. 

Todd jumped out of bed and headed straight to meet them at Margaret Mary Hospital, (MMH) in Batesville just past 11 p.m.

“I walked into his room, and I knew,” Todd recalled. “His color was terrible. He was blue around his mouth and nose. They already had him back and started on the IV and oxygen by the time I got there. He was very sick.”

Todd, who is a former RN, was keeping a close eye on his numbers on the monitors and knew there was something really wrong, but what? 

At this point, COVID-19 had only been reported in Indiana six days prior and had yet to be confirmed in Franklin County, so Todd wasn't thinking along those lines yet and neither was the ER doctor, according to Todd.  Todd thought he probably had pneumonia. It only took a few hours for Todd and the staff at MMH to decide Fasbinder had something much more dangerous than pneumonia.

“I think when the meds and oxygen and IV weren't doing anything for his blood gas numbers for three hours, we all thought it was something more serious.”

Around 3:30 a.m., the call was made to Christ hospital in Cincinnati to see if a bed was available for Fasbinder and he was transferred at 7:30 a.m. the next morning. Todd said they weren't ruling out COVID-19 at this point, but  leaning towards bacterial pneumonia, which is why the staff at MMH thought Christ Hospital would be best because they are equipped with lung specialists.

Todd could tell it was serious when the MMH hospital staff started to rush to get him transferred, and the respiratory therapist wouldn't leave his side. 
“But no one acted freaked out, they had tested him for the coronavirus, but didn't immediately quarantine him or anything like that,” Todd said. “I don't think his doctors at MMH really thought he had the virus.”

Fasbinder, although very ill, was still awake and talking through his hospital visit at MMH.  He was able to answer all of the questions asked and inform the hospital staff where he had been the week before becoming ill, which wasn't many places. 

Fasbinder helped fry chicken for a stag party at the American Legion and had been to the casino, but that was all. 

Fasbinder headed to Christ Hospital via ambulance, and Todd headed home at 5:30 a.m. so she could pack a bag and meet him down there. Before she left him early that Thursday morning, she told him, “I'll see you in a little bit, Daddy. Please listen to the nurse and do what you're supposed to do, I love you.”

Fasbinder's response, “I love you too, baby.”

She then told the nurses to “please take care of my Daddy,” and headed home to pack.  Little did Todd know that would be the last time she would see her father in person for at least two weeks.

When Todd arrived at Christ Hospital on Friday, March 13, everything changed. Fasbinder wasn't where he was supposed to be, and the nurses were acting strangely. When Todd got down to ICU, everyone was looking at her when she asked for Louie Fasbinder. Instead of taking her to him, they ushered her to the waiting area. Two days later, March 15 the Franklin County Health Department was reporting their first case of the coronavirus, but it wasn't Fasbinder.

Next, Todd found out she would not be able to go back with her Dad; a test had been sent to see if he had COVID-19 and he was basically quarantined immediately. Todd was able to talk to him before he was sedated and put on a ventilator. She told him how much she loved him one last time, and his response was one she will never forget, “I'm scared Bran, I'm scared.”

Todd told him she knew he was but that she was praying, and he had to fight, and she would see him later. Todd officially broke down as she drove home from Christ Hospital that first day.  Defeated she couldn't see him for herself.  She had not been told to quarantine by anyone at this time but decided to until her father's test results came back.

Todd, fully believing in the power of prayer, took to Facebook on Friday, March 13 to urge friends and family to pray when she arrived home that evening.

“I've decided even though he told me not to; I'm going to ask for prayers for my Dad,” Todd's Facebook post started. “He was taken to the ER last night in Batesville and was transferred to Christ Hospital ICU early this morning. He is in Respiratory Failure and is being treated for bacterial pneumonia. He was tested for the coronavirus this morning as he had two out of six markers they look for. That DOES NOT mean he has the virus. The results will take three days. He is in isolation for those three days. He's scared. We're scared. Panicking will not help. Please send us your prayers and well wishes, but please don't blow our phones up. We are exhausted and very scared and would like to respond to everyone, but we just can't. Please pray for my Daddy.”

Todd continued to outline the days to follow on Facebook as her Dad started the fight for his life. Just 24 hours later, Todd's Facebook status came as a shock to a community just realizing COVID-19 was there, in their hometown, yet there would still be no confirmation for a week.

Update - Saturday 2:02 p.m. 

 “I just talked to Dad's nurse. He had an extremely bad night and morning,” Todd shared. “His Stats were down to 59%, which is not good. He's on Bipap now, and his Stats have come up to 75%, but that's still not good for someone getting that much oxygen. His WBC (white blood cell count) is holding steady, which is good. He's on three very strong IV antibiotics. They thought they were going to have to intubate him this morning, but his numbers came up. Intubation is the next step if his numbers decline again. They have him sedated because of the BiPAP and him being claustrophobic. His nurse said he is resting right now finally. He's not out of the woods yet, but I have faith that he's stronger than this. Folks, please continue to pray for my Daddy.”

Sunday, Fasbinder was still awake and knew what was going on, but that would quickly change too. Todd explained on Sunday that her Dad's medical team was getting ready to intubate him for a couple of days to give his lungs a chance to recover. 

Over the next few days, Fasbinder's condition deteriorated rapidly. His temperature had reached 105 by Sunday, March 15, as the second case of COVID-19 was about to be confirmed in Franklin County. Fasbinder was not responding to medicine like doctors had hoped, and Todd felt helpless. There were no test results, no answers, and it seemed no treatment was working. Medical professionals at Christ Hospital were working around the clock to save Todd's dad, but during that time, she was left without answers and no choices but to put her trust in God completely.

On Tuesday, March 17 Fasbinder was moved to the Cardiovascular ICU. He was still in isolation and no test results. Meanwhile, Todd was self-quarantined and feeling very alone as her dad was also quarantined without her, a circumstance that was very unfamiliar for the pair. Since Todd and Fasbinder had lost a brother and son and mother and wife tragically already, the two were extremely close. Fasbinder had become Todd's rock since her mom passed away.

Six days later from the first visit to the hospital, Todd shared bad news on Wednesday afternoon, March 18.

“I just talked to Dad's doctor and his team,” Todd said. “I told them to give it to me straight. Dad's lungs are failing. Everything they've tried has failed.

The vent and the “mechanical lung” are our last hope. We won't know if the machine is working for 2-3 days. They are treating him as though he does have the coronavirus because the test still isn't back. His course of treatment won't change regardless of the result. It's not the news we wanted to hear. We have to believe he will come out of this. We are scared. We can't think about anything except this machine giving his lungs the rest they need to heal. It makes me sick to type these words. Please please please pray for my Daddy. Please.”

By this time, the Franklin County community was rallying behind Todd and offering help and prayers along the way. Over 250 comments were typed on Todd's post. A community bound together by tragedy, faith and hope. People began to share their pictures of Fasbinder as well as their favorite memories, making it clear just how loved he was.

“We can't go anywhere without him knowing someone,” Todd said. “He just likes to talk s****, And people like a s**** talker. He kids around with people. He would do anything for anyone. He loves to aggravate. He is just a good dude.”

Later, Thursday the test results were in, Fasbinder had COVID-19 and was Franklin County's third positive case. By Thursday evening, Fasbinder's team of doctors called Todd to let her know they had started her Dad on a drug typically used to treat patients with malaria, Chloroquine.

Chloroquine was discovered in 1934 and is on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines.  These are the medicines in a health system that are considered to be the safest and most effective. On the same day doctors were starting Fasbinder on the Chloroquine, Trump announced the FDA was working to approve the medicine as a treatment for COVID-19.

“A drug called Chloroquine, and some people would add to it, hydroxychloroquine, so, Chloroquine or hydroxychloroquine, now this is a common malaria drug. It's also a drug used for strong arthritis,” Trump said at Thursday's coronavirus press briefing. “Somebody has pretty serious arthritis, also uses this in a somewhat different form, but it is known as a malaria drug, and it's been around for a long time, and it's very powerful. But the nice part is it's been around for a long time, so we know that if things don't go as planned, it's not going to kill anybody.”

All reports regarding Chloroquine coming from China and France were preliminary, and although they indicated the medicine may have some benefit against coronavirus, there wasn't enough information to be sure.

For Todd and her family, Chloroquine was their first real ray of hope, though. Along with his new medication, the hospital also worked to get an IPAD into Fasbinder's room so he could hear Todd's voice. Todd wanted to SKYPE, but Fasbinder's doctor recommended she didn't see him in his current state.
“I can hopefully call him a few times each day,” Todd said. “I'm going to take the doc's advice, and just imagine the healthy, always tan, handsome white-haired man who is my Daddy.”

The news Todd reported to the community continued to be filled with hope, despite small setbacks. As of Monday, March 23, roughly three weeks after symptoms begin, Todd, her family, and a small community were filled with hope as other community members were struggling and fighting for their lives from the same sickness, COVID-19.

“Daddy had a pretty quiet day,” Todd started. “No major changes. Tomorrow they will take him off of continuous dialysis, so hopefully, his body tolerates that ok. His ventilator is back up to 65%, so that's a small setback. But he is stable. I know his condition can change any second, but I have faith that God can and will heal my Dad. I am so grateful for all of your prayers. Please please please keep lifting my Daddy up in prayer!! My God Is Bigger!!”

Todd is now focusing on staying strong for her daddy's sake, praying and looking forward to what her dad will say when he regains consciousness.

“He will probably say, 'Hi baby!'” Todd said. “He wanted a Coke or Sprite at the hospital, so he will probably ask for that, and when he gets home, he will want a Nixie Burger.”

One of the things that has kept Todd going during this time is the support she continues to get from the community.

“The best thing by far is the absolutely amazing outpouring of prayers from both people I know and people I don't all over the country,” Todd said. “They see God moving. It's such a joy for me to go through all the comments and see how many people are touched by Daddy's story.”

Todd wanted to share a message with others in the Franklin County community. Todd said people need to know that it's here, and it only took 24 hours to take her dad all the way down. 

She is urging the community to stay home.

“No one wants to go through this hell,” Todd explained. “Having to sit and wait for calls and really depend on the hospital for communication is the worst feeling. Not being able to be there with your parents when they need you most. If people could only see this side of it, they would understand how serious it is.”

For others that may be facing similar circumstances, Todd shared they should write everything down, ask questions when you talk to the hospital, stay informed, take care of yourself and lean on your faith.

And all though Brandy is a self-proclaimed “Daddy's girl,” and can't imagine life without him; she has stuck to one sentiment that has helped to pull her through: “My God is bigger.”