Tri-Cities business owner’s west side relatives hit with coronavirus

Life Care Center

RICHLAND, Wash. — A local business owner is dealing with the effects of the coronavirus – from a distance.

Richland business owner Joel Kruse has five family members that have tested positive for the virus. He believes more of them may have gotten it, but they weren’t able to get tested.

“My uncle and aunts that are older got tested, but my cousin tried to get tested and they basically said ‘no,’” said Kruse.

All of Kruse’s affected relatives live on the west side of the state, and he hasn’t been in physical contact with any of them. He believes they all got infected after visiting his grandmother at the Life Care Center in Kirkland, which has been a major source of the coronavirus outbreak.

Kruse said a few weeks prior to the outbreak, his grandmother had gotten sick with respiratory symptoms and was sent to the hospital. She recovered, was cleared by the hospital and sent back to Life Care. A few days later, the COVID-19 outbreak hit. Incredibly, Kruse’s grandmother is still at the Life Care Center and has never been diagnosed with the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, Kruse’s other family members who had visited are in the process of recovering. Most seem to have fully recovered, with the exception of his grandfather who is still in the hospital. However, Kruse has seen firsthand some of the other effects the outbreak can have on people, including his father.

“My Dad drives for Uber,” he said. “If you get sick with the Coronavirus, you’re not working.”

Kruse also owns Western Restaurant Supply in Richland, and he’s worried about how the outbreak will affect the hospitality industry.

“We build restaurants for a living,” he said. “So we’re keeping tabs on the local restaurant industry.”

Though it hasn’t been easy and his family has had some scary moments, Kruse still isn’t too concerned about the virus.

“Seeing my family on the west side go through it and the struggles that they’re going through, I can see how it’s definitely going to affect people,” he said. “But it’s not Ebola, it doesn’t have a 50 percent mortality rate. I think people need to chill out.”