Temple Israel preschool teacher’s condition improves

Before they got sick with COVID-19, Jane and Michael Weinhaus enjoyed time with their grandchildren, (from left) Bryn and Leo Weinhaus and Jackson Harvey. 

Jane Weinhaus, 63, a beloved teacher at Temple Israel’s Deutsch Early Childhood Center, remains hospitalized in the intensive care unit at Missouri Baptist Hospital, where she has been since March 15. 

On Sunday, when the Jewish Light first reported this story, she had been on a ventilator for seven days but by Tuesday, the ventilator had been removed, and she is on oxygen, her son Jason Weinhaus said.

“Mom and dad are still in the ICU. Mom is off the ventilator, but is not in the clear yet,” Jason said on Tuesday. “She is dealing with confusion and figuring out how to respond to the nurses and doctor’s commands.”

Jason, his father, Michael Weinhaus, his brother Ryan Weinhaus and his sister-in-law, Dr. Brittanie Weinhaus, have also tested positive for the virus.

Michael Weinhaus, 63, was taken by ambulance to Missouri Baptist on March 20 because he was experiencing extreme shortness of breath. He, too, was placed on a ventilator but is now breathing, also with the help of oxygen, in the ICU.

At least three other teachers and one parent at TI have tested positive, according to statements from the congregation.

Friends of Ms. Jane, as she is known at the preschool where she has taught for more than 25 years, have started a campaign in her honor on Facebook, sharing memories of her and using the hashtag “BelikeJane.”

“If [Deutsch Early Childhood Center] had a heartbeat it would be Miss Jane. We love you and can’t wait to get one of your famous hugs,” wrote one person.

Ryan and Brittanie, and Jason, quarantined in their respective homes, each said they were doing much better.

Ryan explained that he and Brittanie, both of whom found out they had tested positive for the virus March 21, Brittanie’s 31st birthday, were on vacation in Scottsdale, Ariz., when they started feeling ill.

“It hit us all differently,” said Ryan, explaining that the couple first felt bad March 14. “My wife had flulike symptoms, and she developed a pretty nasty cough. I haven’t coughed once, but I’ve had achiness and a bad headache and shortness of breath.”

By the time the couple fell ill in Arizona, Ryan’s mother had been hospitalized in St. Louis. The assumption was coronavirus but her test results hadn’t come back. Concerned that they, too, might have the virus, Ryan and Brittanie rented a car and drove back to St. Louis from Scottsdale, arriving home March 18.

“We were spooked. We didn’t want to infect anyone by flying,” Ryan said. “So we took a 24-hour road trip.”

Ryan and Jason said their mother first felt sick March 8. She called in sick to work the following day and went to urgent care to have a flu test, which came back negative.

“Her initial symptoms were cough, body ache, fatigue and headache,” Ryan recalled, adding that his mother “never gets sick” and had no preexisting health conditions.

“She just wasn’t getting any better, so she went in,” he said.

On March 12, Michael Weinhaus took his wife to the emergency room, where she tested positive for pneumonia.

“When she coughed on one of the doctors, the doctor suggested she get a test for coronavirus,” Jason said. “On Saturday, March 14, when drive-through testing began, my aunt took her to get tested.”

Jason said he got tested that afternoon. When both he and his mother’s tests came back positive four days later, Michael, Ryan and Brittanie also got tested.

But by then Jane was already in the hospital and on a ventilator.

“My wife is about 90 percent recovered, my brother is about 90 percent and I’m pretty close to that,” said Ryan, adding that he and his wife plan to work from home for the next several weeks. “But it’s been a rough week for sure. It’s been even harder on my brother because he has a wife and two small children.”

As a result, Jason said, he’s spent the last week quarantined in the family’s basement, eating and sleeping there, away from his wife and children, ages 4 and 2. They attend the preschool at Temple Israel.

“I stared at the wall for the first few days because I felt so bad,” he said, explaining that he had a high fever and pneumonia and could hardly breathe when the virus was at its worst. “The hardest thing has been not talking to my mom for seven days. I’m hoping she will jump out of this soon. I suppose the silver lining in all of this is the support and love we all feel. It’s amazing how the community has rallied around us.”

Ryan echoes those sentiments.

“The power of prayer and positivity has been pretty remarkable,” he said. “It meant the world to me, and I know it will mean the world to my mom.

“I don’t pray a whole lot, but ever since this happened, I started saying some prayers, and they’ve helped my mindset. Your head wants to go to the negative, but slowing down, taking a deep breath and saying a prayer has really helped.”