Phillip and Anthony Tsai-Brooks died the same week after contracting COVID-19.
Anthony, a council member in Live Oak, Texas, an Army veteran, and a worker at the San Antonio Military Medical Center, passed Tuesday night.
His husband, Phillip, owner of the Extreme Opulence Hair Studio and a member of Live Oak's Economic Development Corporation, died Easter Sunday of a coronavirus-related heart attack. Mary M. Dennis, the mayor of the San Antonio suburb, confirmed the passing of both in a Facebook remembrance.
"We are forever grateful for both Anthony’s and Phillip’s service to our Live Oak Community and to our country. May God Bless their family and all who were blessed to call both men 'friend,'" Dennis wrote.
Phillip's brothers, Alfred and Robert Tsai, mourned their loss and shared the couple's story with KABB, a local Fox affiliate, in order to stress the importance of social distancing — a key measure in the fight against the virus — and help save the lives of others.
"You can look at the end of the day, there are two family members we will miss and will never get back. It’s not worth going out socializing and having that chance risking the chance of getting it," the brothers said.
According to the brothers, Phillip was the first to be admitted to a hospital, days after initially seeking treatment and medication from a doctor. He was placed on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. In his final Facebook post, he wrote, "Back in the ER.. oxygen super low. Heart rate low. Shortness breath vomiting blood pressure high fever 102.9. Update: I tested positive for corona. Be here for a couple of days.. then quarantine 14 day."
Anthony, who was also sick but reluctant to be hospitalized, joined his husband in the same facility days later when his mother-in-law found him unresponsive. They were a few rooms apart in the ICU when Phillip, while he was conscious and talking, died suddenly. Anthony passed shortly afterward.
In addition to grieving, the family has another hardship: The Tsais' mother lived with the couple in San Antonio. She too has tested positive for the novel coronavirus and while in mourning must remain in isolation, including from her own surviving family members.
"We can’t go in, my brothers can’t go in and comfort her she standing in the doorway crying and we’re here in California," said Tsai.
There are at least 17,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Texas and 428 deaths at the time of this article's publishing, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Regardless, Gov. Greg Abbott announced plans Friday to start reopening the economy in late April and ease some social distancing guidelines.
Watch KABB's interview with the Tsai brothers below.