- Anthony Brooks, a councilman in Live Oak, Texas, died of the coronavirus two days after his husband, Phillip Tsai-Brooks, succumbed to the virus.
- Phillip’s mother, who lived with the couple, has also tested positive and under quarantine alone in their home.
- Phillip had shown signs of improvement but died suddenly on Easter Sunday.
- “It’s a love story that ended too soon in this world,” his brother, Alfred Tsai said. “But in heaven, it will last for eternity.”
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
A Texas councilman and his husband died days apart in the same hospital after both tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
Anthony Brooks, a councilmember in the San Antonio suburb of Live Oak, died on April 14. He had been diagnosed three weeks earlier, the San Antonio Express-News reported.
The 52-year-old Air Force veteran and employee of the San Antonio Military Medical Centre was first elected to the city council in 2015.
His husband, Phillip Tsai-Brooks, owned Extreme Opulence hair salon in San Antonio and sat on the board of the Live Oak Economic Development Corporation.
After meeting at a party in Houston, the couple wed in San Francisco in 2014, before marriage equality was recognised in Texas.
“Tony Brooks and Phillip Tsai loved each other so much, and they left this world together,” Phillip’s brother, Alfred Tsai, told the Express-News. “It’s a love story that ended too soon in this world. But in heaven, it will last for eternity.”
Live Oak Mayor Mary M. Dennis praised the couple’s leadership and service to the community in an April 16 Facebook post. “May God Bless their family and all who were blessed to call both men ‘friend,” she wrote.
City Manager Scott Wayman told Insider that both men were “integral” to Live Oak’s success. Anthony had “a really good understanding of the budget,” he said. “He kind of knew how cities worked.”
Wayman called Phillip, 42, “an outstanding young man” who was supportive of local small businesses.
Phillip’s mother, who lived in the couple’s home, has also tested positive for the coronavirus. She’s had to grieve alone in the house while under quarantine.
“We had to arrange my other brothers who live in San Antonio to stand outside the house while we tell her the news,” Phillip’s brother, Alfred Tsai, told Fox 29. “That’s the heartbreaking side. We can’t go in, my brothers can’t go in and comfort her. She is standing in the doorway crying and we’re here in California.”
Robert Tsai, another of Phillip’s brothers, posted on Facebook that his mother was “heartbroken.” “[She’s] trying not to leave her room because everything there is just a reminder of Phil and Tony.”
In a March 20 Facebook post, Phillip said he felt “cold chills and body aches.” His doctor attributed it to a recent whooping cough shot, but advised him to cancel all his hair appointments and quarantine for 11 days.
“Sorry, I don’t wanna get anybody sick,” Phillip wrote, “This is a freaking nightmare.”
Robert Tsai said his brother, brother-in-law, and mother had all sought medical advice for their symptoms and were all given prescriptions and sent home to rest without being given a coronavirus test.
Then, on March 26, Phillip posted that he had tested positive for the virus and was in the ER with “super low” oxygen levels and a low heart rate.
He also had high blood pressure, shortness of breath, vomiting, and a fever of 102.9.
“Be here for a couple of days… then quarantine [at home for] 14 days,” he wrote. But he never went home.
Phillip Tsai-Brooks died of heart failure on April 12, which was Easter Sunday.
His death came suddenly: He was using the ventilator less and showed signs of improvement, Robert said.
Just hours before, Phillip was video-chatting with his family from his bed in the ICU at San Antonio’s Methodist Hospital Metropolitan.
“By the time I was able to join the video-chat Phil had a little trouble breathing so the nurse cut the session short,” Robert wrote on Facebook.
Two days later, Anthony died.
He had originally been diagnosed with pneumonia but didn’t want to go to the ER.
“I don’t know if he thought he could fight through his symptoms, but a few days later he was found unresponsive,” Robert said. Anthony tested positive for the coronavirus and was admitted to Northeast Baptist Hospital ‘s COVID-19 ICU on March 31 with a deflated lung.
He was eventually transferred to Methodist Metropolitan to be near his husband, and because it had an ECMO life-support machine doctors hoped would prolong his life.
With both men incapacitated, Alfred became the power of attorney for his brother and brother-in-law.
“They were both on ventilators and were given the hydroxychloroquine/azithromycin cocktail,” Robert said on Facebook. “Phil’s kidneys were starting to fail and [he] was placed on dialysis. Tony had seizures but they were able to get that under control.”
The family was told Phillip was getting better, and doctors were trying to reduce his dependency on the ventilator. But every time it looked like he was making progress, Robert said, “there would be something else go wrong.”
“It’s just so sad that Phil and Tony died without loved ones there with them,” he added. “It’s sad that even though my mum feels better, my brothers who live in San Antonio can’t go to her and give her a hug. It’s sad that my family and Alfred’s family can’t just jump on a plane and be with them. It’s just the reality we live in today.”
Anthony and Phillip, who are among 39 coronavirus deaths Bexar County has reported, will be buried together at the Fort Sam Houston cemetery in San Antonio. Their family has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help with funeral expenses.