Southeast Nebraska family fighting virus, keeping farm going
ENDICOTT, NE — Thaddaeus Immink did not think he’d be spending the days leading up to Thanksgiving back working on the family farm.
His healthy, 31-year-old brother Jake handled most of that work at the cow-calf operation 12 miles south of Fairbury. So, even after the pandemic hit, the farm wasn’t a concern.
“You don’t think it’s going to effect you, and then it does,” Immink said.
The news came on October 29th. Jake tested positive for COVID-19. He quickly spiked a serious fever, developed a headache and became delusional. His sister-in-law, Renee, says that caught the family’s attention.
“With as sick as he got so quickly, we just knew that there was something that just wasn’t right," Renee said. "It was just kind of an extreme case, he wasn’t acting himself at all so everyone was very concerned.”
Jake checked into the ICU in Lincoln on November 3rd. While doctors hooked him up to a ventilator, the rest of the family examined their own health.
Parents Jon and Peggy started showing symptoms. Jake’s sister Esther noticed something wrong… so did his brother Ben. In all, eight Immink relatives caught the virus. Jon and Peggy needed hospital care. Peggy was released this week but Ben took her spot.
“It got to be that way, like, oh my goodness who is next? People are going crazy wearing masks, sanitizing everything they can think of, and still it seemed like we’re getting it,” Renee said.
Out of the group, Jake is in the worst shape. He is still intubated and hooked up to a ventilator.
“It’s really scary," Renee said. "You know, Jake had some times where he got really sick. You know, you’re really concerned for your family (and) you don’t get to be there with them.”
Back at the farm, it’s a scramble to keep up with the cattle and sheep. The older brothers filled in at first, then Thaddaeus came down from Lincoln on Saturday to take over.
The healthy Imminks are now working to get the word out that even those in rural Nebraska need to take the virus seriously.
“No one thought that my brother who is 31 is going to be the one it hits hardest," Thaddaeus said. "We always thought my parents were the ones that would get hit from it but no, it can hit anyone so you never really know.”
The family is raising money via Go Fund Me to help with medical bills and farm expenses.
The updates took a positive turn recently. Nurses dropped Jake’s oxygen support from 100 percent to 70 percent. Jon and Ben have avoided being placed in the ICU.
The family is also promoting the use of a pulse oximeter. They say using one with Jake helped alert the family that his condition was serious.