Dr. John and Deb Egli

Travel has always been one of the top interests of Dr. John and Deborah Egli of Topeka/Wolcottville. But the doctor, who is hospitalized with COVID-19 at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, has a long road ahead of him before he can resume exploring the world. This photo was taken in May 2019 on China’s Great Wall.

COVID-19 is infecting health care workers at an alarming rate. Some are becoming seriously ill and even dying.

Hospitalized since June 10 at Parkview Regional Medical Center, Dr. John Egli of Topeka/Wolcottville is in intensive care. He has come close to needing a ventilator, according to his wife Deborah (Deb) Egli, but is not on one yet.

“We don’t know what the outcome of this will be,” she said Thursday afternoon. “The doctor says it still could go badly. We take it day by day and hour by hour.”

A family practice physician, Egli, 70, has been serving LaGrange County since 1980. They hope to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in October.

“The doctor is now cautiously optimistic,” she said.

Egli was in good health following a partial knee replacement on May 28 at Lutheran Hospital and was doing his physical therapy at home. But then he developed a cough.

He was supposed to start seeing patients on Monday, June 8, but he felt terrible and went to bed. He had low oxygen saturation and was on oxygen at home.

“I said, ‘This is not going well,’” Deb Egli recalled. “I had to convince him to let me call the ambulance. We both got tested on that Tuesday (June 9).”

They both tested positive, but Deb Egli, 68, said her only symptoms were loss of taste and her mouth got dry.

Dr. Egli’s office in Topeka is closed until at least June 29. The entire staff, including a nurse practitioner and a nurse midwife, have tested negative. All of them and Deb Egli will be re-tested.

She believes her husband contracted the virus from patient contact possibly just before his knee surgery.

The state has found that 43-45% of the people who have been tested at random who tested positive were asymptomatic.

“That’s a huge number of people walking around out there who have it and don’t know they have it and that’s really scary,” she said.

Deb Egli will be quarantining herself until five to six days after her symptoms end. Her taste still is not back to normal.

The Eglis are the parents of four and grandparents of 15, including the daughters of their former AFS exchange student from Barbados who went to Goshen College and now is married and lives in Mishawaka.

The Eglis are members of Marion Christian Fellowship in Shipshewana, and Deb Egli said the prayers are what keep her going.

People all over the world — even Africa — are praying for them.

The Eglis have traveled quite a bit and Dr. Egli’s brother works with missionaries. Tanzania, Africa, is the home of a safari guide who became a dear friend. The Eglis took two safaris with the guide and hosted him and his wife in Indiana. They had planned to do a fourth safari this month.

On Wednesday, Dr. Paul Halverson and Dr. Nir Menachemi of the IUPUI Fairbanks School of Public Health presented results from their second wave of a statewide COVID-19 survey aimed at trying to estimate the true reach of COVID-19 in Indiana.

About 43% of people with active infections were asymptomatic, which was about the same as the 45% asymptomatic rate reported in the first wave of testing, showing that nearly half of all infections are carried in an invisible way.

Statewide only 0.6% of people randomly tested showed active infections; antibody tests showed an increase in previous infections to 1.5%.

However, the numbers appear to be climbing in LaGrange and Noble counties.

“I don’t want to offend anybody but I just wish people could take this more seriously and abide by the restrictions,” Deb Egli said. “Wearing masks is not that hard. You can’t just think about yourself ... Don’t you care if you infect somebody else?

“If you have any compassion for your fellow man at all I don’t think (taking safety precautions) is asking too much.”

Grace Housholder is a columnist and editorial writer for KPC News. Contact her at ghousholder@kpcmedia.com.

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