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Mother pleads for Utahns to get vaccinated after son possibly contracts COVID in hospital


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SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake mother is asking those who are not vaccinated against COVID-19 to get the shot after her toddler ended up testing positive for the virus in the hospital.

Yvonne Francis said her son Justin aspirated on a small piece of apple, which triggered an asthma attack on Jan. 12. He had trouble breathing throughout the night and was taken to the ER in the morning.

He was tested at the hospital for a number of viruses, including COVID-19. For two days in a row, the results came back negative.

"It is really heartbreaking to see him, you know, kind of suffer through that," Francis said.

Francis said on day three of her son's hospital stay, doctors preformed a bronchoscopy.

"They saw that his lungs were just really full of secretions that he would have from like a virus or an infection," she said. "That's when they re-ran the panels and found out that he was positive."

Justin tested positive for COVID-19, rhino, and adenoviruses, in addition to pneumonia and bacterial infections in his lungs. He was sedated and intubated while in the ICU.

Throughout his stay, all family members remained symptom-free and tested negative for COVID-19.

"(Doctors) really don't know, but they said, you know, if no one else in our household catches it, it's more likely that he caught it with his hospitalization," Francis said.

On Monday, the Utah Department of Health reported 813 COVID hospitalizations.


(Doctors) really don't know, but they said, you know, if no one else in our household catches it, it's more likely that he caught it with his hospitalization.

–Yvonne Francis


When asked about catching the virus in hospitals, Greg Bell with the Utah Hospital Association said, "Our healthcare workers are rarely being infected at work. They are catching it out in the community. We take extreme precautions with cleanliness to prevent the spread of COVID. Hospitals are a very safe place, and people should go to the hospital when they need to."

Justin's family said no matter where he caught it, they hope his story reminds people to get vaccinated, so that hospitals aren't overrun with COVID patients and the virus itself.


We take extreme precautions with cleanliness to prevent the spread of COVID. Hospitals are a very safe place, and people should go to the hospital when they need to.

–Greg Bell, Utah Hospital Association


"Justin is 3 years old. He couldn't get the vaccine yet, and there was nothing else that we could have done to protect him," Francis said. "If you are vaccinated, or if you are isolating, staying home, not exposing yourself, you probably won't end up in an ER."

Doctors expect to send Justin home on medication this week after spending nearly three weeks in the hospital.

His family continues to remain COVID-free, including his mother, who is eight months pregnant.

Friends put together a GoFundMe* campaign to help with the family's medical expenses.


*Disclaimer: KSL.com has not verified the accuracy of the information provided with respect to the account nor does KSL.com assure that the monies deposited will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit or donation you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Ashley Moser
Ashley Moser joined KSL in January 2016. She co-anchors KSL 5 Live at 5 with Mike Headrick and reports for the KSL 5 News at 10.

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