Olson Couple
Michelle and Brad Silber talk with Doris, Harvey and other family members virtually while Harvey was in the hospital. (Courtesy of Michelle Silber)

A couple’s story is spreading hope among friends and relatives across the globe about COVID-19.

Harvey Olson, 80, of Commerce Township is living proof that COVID-19 can be beaten. His story is spreading hope among his friends and relatives across the globe.

Both Harvey and his wife Doris, 74, are on the other side of a ferocious three-week-long battle with the novel coronavirus. Both believe they contracted the virus in mid-March after attending a wedding in Florida and flying back home to Metro Detroit. It was right around the time when schools were starting to close.

“From the beginning, I felt really lousy,” Olson told a TV reporter by phone as he was about to be transferred out of Beaumont Royal Oak to a rehab facility in Bloomfield Hills. “I felt very, very weak.”

Olson came down with a low-grade fever that spiked to 102. He also had a terrible cough and trouble breathing. Add to that a weakened immune system after a battle with prostate cancer (which remains in remission) and recent back and knee surgeries, and family members were understandably terrified when he tested positive for COVID-19.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of April 20, there were 41,455 coronavirus deaths in the U.S., and patients Harvey’s age are considered among the highest risk.

“One day, I could barely hear his voice. He could barely talk between his gasps and his breaths. That was a very scary moment,” said his daughter, Michelle Silber of Commerce Township. “I’ll never forget how scared I was.”

While Harvey was on oxygen, being treated with hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin in the hospital, his wife, Doris, tested positive, too. She recovered while being quarantined at home.

“I was just scared that I wouldn’t make it,” she said. “I had a fever, and I had this horrible headache.”

A no-visitors policy at the hospital prevented family members from being there in person for Olson, so they found ways to be there virtually. They made daily FaceTime calls and sent him a video filled with well wishes from family members across the globe. Harvey and Doris have five children between them, plus 16 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

“I’m a very lucky man,” Harvey said. “So many people were there for me.”

Now, family members can’t wait for Harvey to return home, virus-free. He will have to regain his strength first. But it appears the worst is over.

“I truly have no words to describe how grateful I am to everyone who’s prayed, to every health care worker who took care of my dad,” Silber said. “I’ve cried tears of happiness knowing that he and Doris defeated this beast. They are the lucky ones. Not everyone is so lucky. This is a reminder there is hope.” 

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