‘What will it take to do the right thing?’: Father of Tahoe boy fighting for his life urges COVID-19 awareness
Special to The Union
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — Ten-year-old Maeson Howard of Christmas Valley is fighting for his life at UC Davis Children’s Hospital.
The boy started feeling unwell on July 28 and the next day had body aches, vomiting and a fever over 104 degrees. He was admitted into Barton Memorial Hospital and was transported to UC Davis shortly afterward.
Doctors believe he has multi-system inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) which has been showing up in children post-COVID-19. According to the Center for Disease Control, the condition inflames different organs throughout the body. The CDC says that many children with MIS-C have had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been exposed to someone with COVID-19. The condition is rare with many unknowns. Luckily, his family got medical attention early enough.
“It took me a minute to know exactly what to do. Your mind races,” said Corley Howard, Maeson’s father. “We had no idea he was susceptible to this.”
Howard said that he is frustrated that his son is having to suffer through this and wishes he could trade places with him. He is frustrated that people still don’t believe what’s going on, adding that he’s trying to refocus his frustration and anger to bring awareness to the community. He believes that local officials are not doing enough to protect the community.
“He is a healthy, happy kid. No one deserves this,” said Howard. “This is my plight to bring awareness that no one is safe. Getting more people aware is key.”
Howard sent a letter to the South Lake Tahoe mayor and the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors detailing that more needs to be done.
My name is Corley Howard. My 10-year-old son Maeson is currently in UC Davis Children’s Hospital fighting for his life. He was transferred down there Saturday from Barton. It appears he is battling MIS-C or Kawasaki disease as a result of exposure to COVID here in South Lake. We have been very smart and safe for months now but yet somehow he was exposed and now this by-product of a virus has surfaced and has been attacking all his organs for the past five days.
My wife Sarah is with him while my 7-year-old daughter and I isolate at home in Christmas Valley. Assuming we’ve been exposed as well, we are self quarantined. We are a local family who has roots here for three generations.
I’m writing you in an effort to plead with you and other officials to do something quickly to curb the amount of visitors that are coming to South Lake. It is absolutely absurd to have such activities available for the high number of visitors who have consistently been coming into town. I understand the need to keep the local economy going, but at what risk? Sadly it is probably too late to save our community from such a virus. Beaches, vacation rentals, boat and bike rentals, marinas, hotels, and other such business should be shut down immediately, and should have never reopened.
What will it take for local officials to wake up and do the right thing? Does a family member of a local official need to be sick in order for a reality check? What will it take? Who has to die in order for you to do something? Will my son’s condition or possible death open your eyes to what’s really going on around here? You all should be ashamed of yourselves. Please share this email with your staff and do something to enforce what little rules we have and start to make a difference for the sake of the lives in our community.
TOO MUCH TRAFFIC
“The argument is still the same, there is too much traffic coming into South Lake Tahoe,” he said.
Howard said he understands why people want to come to Tahoe and that tourists are what comes along when you choose to live here.
“I get it, we chose to live in a tourist town, but the timing is not right,” he said. “The numbers don’t really show what’s going on. It doesn’t seem like the right time to be putting people on boats and campgrounds.”
Howard said that it is important the community knows what is going on.
“Every vacation home in my neighborhood has been rented,” he said.
Howard said that he understands officials can’t just stop traffic, but hopes it can be curved. He believes there needs to be more dialogue, actions and enforcement.
“I want to see our county officials stand up and show some leadership,” he said. “It’s painful to see the complacency. Our community is left suffering.”
Howard said that his family have taken COVID-19 seriously and have been careful since the start by social distancing and keeping his social group very small. He has a 7-year-old daughter who he is worried about as well.
“We have been doing our due diligence on being safe and smart,” he said.
After the family was notified that their son was exposed to the virus, they made sure to isolate and inform everyone they were in contact with.
El Dorado County District 5 Supervisor Sue Novasel acknowledged the letter during a recent board meeting.
“My heart goes out to that family,” Novasel said. “In the county, we’re not machines. Many of us have had personal issues with COVID-19 and we understand.”
Chris Fiore, communication manager for South Lake Tahoe, said they are aware of the situation and are working closely with the El Dorado County Health Department and the state to make sure everyone is doing their part to keep Tahoe safe.
“This is heartbreaking and our thoughts go out to their family,” Fiore said.
Fiore said since the beginning the city has been urging people to be responsible by wearing a mask, keeping 6 feet distance, washing hands, and doing their part to stay safe.
“We have been doing this since the beginning and will continue until the last case of COVID is gone,” Fiore said.
El Dorado County Health Department has even taken two licenses away from businesses that were not being safe.
“We can’t block roads and not let people in,” said Fiore. “The governor’s travel ban is still in effect. People (who are coming to Tahoe) are violating the governor’s ban.”
Fiore said the city is seeing an increase of frustration on social media platforms. He urges people who are frustrated to pick up the phone and call the police’s non-emergency line so the city can know what’s going on.
“The goal for the city and county is to flatten the curve, but the reality is more people are getting sick,” he said.
The city launched its Volunteer Ambassador Program to help educate the community and keep people safe.
Jason Collin, the mayor of South Lake Tahoe, also responded to the letter, “Our hearts go out to Maeson and we are all rooting for him to have a speedy and full recovery.”
For those interested in helping with medical costs for the Howards, visit http://www.gofundme.com/f/misc-maeson-howard.
Cheyanne Neuffer is a contributor to the Tahoe Daily Tribune, a sister publication of The Union.
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