Mother in coma after showing COVID-19 symptoms

Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns has become the latest public face of the NBA’s fight against coronavirus after revealing in an emotional video late Tuesday night that his mother has been hospitalized for the last week and is dealing with health complications from what he believes to be COVID-19.

Towns said that his mother, Jacqueline Cruz, is in a medically induced coma and had to be put on a ventilator.

“I think it’s important that everyone understands the severity of what’s happening in the world right now with the coronavirus and I think where my life is right now could help so I decided to do this video and give you an update of where I’m at,” Towns said. “I was told early last week my parents weren’t feeling well. My first reaction to her was to go seek medical attention immediately. There’s no reason to wait, just go to the nearest hospital and after a couple days of not showing any signs of improvement I was very adamant on the first day to go to a hospital and seek further evaluation.

“Specifically my sister told her she needs to get checked for corona. I don’t think anyone really understood what it was, with deteriorating condition. She kept getting worse, she kept getting worse and the hospital was doing everything they can. I was doing everything they can, everything I could, still am.

“She just wasn’t getting better,” Towns continued. “Her fever was never cutting from 103, maybe go down to 101.9 with the meds and then immediately spike back up during the night. She was very uncomfortable. Her lungs were getting worse, her cough was getting worse. She was deteriorating, she was deteriorating as we always felt that the next medicine would help. This is the one that’s going to get it done. This mixture is going to get it done.”

Towns, who was born and raised in the New Jersey area, said that both of his parents were not feeling well over the last week and both were tested for COVID-19. Towns noted that his father, Karl Sr., was released from the hospital and has been told to self-quarantine as they await the results of the test.

Towns said that the family assumed his mother had COVID-19 because of the symptoms she was showing, but she started to feel better in recent days before taking a turn for the worse.

“She was feeling great,” Towns said in the video. “We talked and she felt she turned the corner, I felt she was turning the corner. I knew there was more days to come but I felt that we were heading in the right direction. They said that she went sideways and things had went sideways quick. And her lungs were extremely getting worse and she was having trouble breathing and they were just explaining to me that she had to be put on a ventilator. And she was getting worse and she was confused by everything and I’m trying to talk to her about everything and encourage and stay positive, just talk through everything with her.”

Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell, who was diagnosed with the virus two weeks ago but has said he is asymptomatic, offered good words to Towns on Twitter.

Towns, who had to pause at times during the video to compose himself, said he was in constant contact with his mom before she was placed in the medically induced coma.

“I talked her when she went there and told her I loved her,” he said. “Every day I always told her how much I love her. She was telling me things I didn’t want to hear so — I dismissed some things she was saying because it wasn’t something I want to hear. It came to a point where it’s difficult, it’s been very difficult for me and my family to say the least. She’s the head of our household. She’s the boss. She’s been in a medically induced coma. Since that day I haven’t talked to her, haven’t been able to obviously communicate with her. I’ve just been getting updates on her condition. It’s rough and day by day we’re just seeing how it goes. We’re being positive, I’m being very positive. So I’m just keeping the strength up for everybody and my family.”

In a 2017 interview with ESPN, Towns said his mother had worked in the Rutgers University medical department for over 20 years. He shares a close relationship with his parents and is hopeful that by speaking out about his mom he can affect how other people view the seriousness of the virus.

“[My family] told me to make this video so that people understand that the severity of this disease is real,” Towns said. “This disease needs to not be taken lightly. Please protect your families, your loved ones, your friends, yourself. Practice social distancing. Please don’t be in places with a lot of people, it just heightens your chances of getting this disease and this disease is not — it’s deadly. It’s deadly. And we’re going to keep fighting on my side, me and my family, we’re going to keep fighting this. We’re going to beat it, we’re going to win.”

Towns, who has been out of action since Feb. 10 because of a fractured left wrist, remains hopeful about his mother’s prognosis and sent warm wishes out to anyone dealing with the virus.

“I hope my story helps,” Towns said. “I hope my story gives you the correct information. Send my love to all your families. I’m praying for every single one of you guys. Give everyone my thoughts and my prayers and life may keep throwing punches at me but I’ll keep getting back up. And I ain’t going to quit at any time and neither will my whole family, neither will my mother. Dominican women are strong, I know they are, my mother is the strongest women I know and I know she’ll beat this and we’re going to rejoice when she does. Love you guys and I’ll talk to you later.”

The coronavirus has infected more than 422,000 people and killed over 18,000. The COVID-19 illness causes mild or moderate symptoms in most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or those with existing health problems. More than 108,000 people have recovered so far, mostly in China.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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