WWII veteran recovers from coronavirus in time to celebrate 104th birthday

A 104-year-old World War II veteran living in Oregon has recovered from the novel coronavirus, making him what is believed to be the nation's oldest survivor of the pandemic. 

Family of William "Bill" Lapschies told OPB that he came down with symptoms of the virus on March 5 and was isolated in his room. On March 11, a test came back positive for COVID-19. Luckily, his doctors said he only had a mild case of coronavirus and did not develop respiratory symptoms that might have required the use of a ventilator. 

Lapschies, who also survived the Spanish flu, reportedly recovered from the virus this week just in time for his 104th birthday on Wednesday. Unlike his 100th birthday, which had 200 guests, his celebration this week was a bit smaller.

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Family members met up outside the Edward C. Allworth Veterans' Home in Oregon with balloons and signs to share their birthday wishes for Lapschies, with everyone remaining at least 6 feet apart to comply with social distancing guidelines. 

Asked how he survived, Lapschies told OPB with a laugh: “I don’t know. ... It just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything.”

The nursing home where Lapschies resides has seen 16 coronavirus cases among residents and two deaths. The virus spreading among seniors at long-term care facilities has been a major concern of health experts as the elderly are at a higher risk of facing more serious illness from the disease. In Washington state, nursing homes were at the epicenter of the outbreak. 

Asked by his granddaughter how he felt to be 104, Lapschies said: “Pretty good. I made it.”

A 103-year-old grandmother in Wuhan, China, and a 101-year-old Italian person have also recovered from the illness. Lapschies is believed to be the oldest person known to recover from COVID-19 so far in the United States.