Oregon Man, Believed to Be One of the Oldest Coronavirus Survivors in the World, Turns 104

Bill Lapschies was one of the first to be diagnosed with COVID-19 in the state

William "Bill" Lapschies
Photo: Koin6

Bill Lapschies is a survivor.

The Oregonian, born in 1916, has survived the 1918 flu pandemic, World War II and now, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

Lapschies celebrated his 104th birthday on Wednesday, 19 days after he had a fever and more than 25 days after first showing symptoms of the contagious respiratory virus, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

Lapschies lives at the Edward C. Allworth Veterans’ Home in Lebanon, Oregon, which is about 80 miles south of Portland.

“This could have easily gone another way,” Lapschies’ physician, Dr. Rob Richardson, told OPB. “There’s not a lot of interventions that can be done.”

Richardson explained that the veteran did not develop the severe respiratory issues that would have put him on a ventilator if at a hospital, where he would have been treated if he didn’t already live in a long-term care facility.

Lapschies’ family helped him ring the milestone birthday with a social distance-safe party where everyone kept six feet apart. But there was still cake, balloons, homemade “happy birthday” signs, and plenty of smiles to go around, even if they were hidden behind surgical masks.

“I don’t know,” Lapschies answered his granddaughter Jamie Yutzie when she asked how he survived COVID-19. “It just went away. Sit out here and you can get rid of anything.”

“Pretty good,” Lapschies said when asked how it felt to be 104, according to OPB. “I made it.”

According to Richardson, Lapschies was put into isolation on March 5 after exhibiting his first symptoms. Three days later, Richardson told OPB, there were several residents at the veteran’s home were showing signs of a respiratory illness, and others were also put into isolation.

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On March 11, Lapschies’ COVID-19 test came back positive, making him one of the first people to be diagnosed with the virus in the state — the first was identified on February 28. One other man at the veteran’s home also tested positive, but has since passed away. Two nurses assistants who work at the home also later tested positive for COVID-19.

Now, “he is fully recovered,” Lapschies’ daughter Carolee Brown told The Oregonian. “He is very perky. And he is very excited.”

There are at least 690 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Oregon, with 18 deaths related to the virus. Nationwide, there are at least 206,233 confirmed cases and 4,576 deaths.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.

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