The mother of the Waikiki bartender currently on life support with COVID-19 has also tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
Peggy Torda-Saballa, the mother of Lee-Jacob “Coby” Torda, said she received her result today via phone after getting tested on Saturday.
“I was taking care of my son when he was sick, so I had very close contact. So it doesn’t surprise me in the least,” Torda-Saballa told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser.
Torda-Saballa said she began experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 about three days ago, but they have been mild.
“I did run a fever yesterday — it was just one day,” she said. “And I had lost (my) taste and smell senses for the last three days now, and I have a little of a dry cough. That’s it.”
Torda was taken to Kaiser Permanente’s Moanalua Medical Center on March 21 after experiencing severe symptoms of the disease, including a high fever, coughing and difficulties breathing.
He started experiencing his symptoms on March 9. Torda did not having any pre-existing medical conditions, according to his family.
Torda-Saballa said she, her husband and Torda’s husband were all tested for the disease on the same day, but Torda’s husband and Torda-Saballa’s husband are still waiting for their results. All four, including Torda, live at together in Ewa Beach.
Torda-Saballa said the family has been instructed to remain quarantined at home and monitor their symptoms.
She, her husband and Torda’s spouse were in contact with Torda while he was sick, but Torda-Saballa so far is the only one showing symptoms.
She said she has not seen her son since he was admitted to the hospital, but the family calls four times a day to get updates on his condition. They also talk to Torda by having a nurse put a phone next to his ear.
“He reacts to it. The nurses say he reacts to it. … Even when in a coma you can hear,” Torda-Saballa said. “He seems to not be agitated in the evening, and they seem to think that he does better when we talk to him.”
She commended the medical staff for not giving them false hope about Torda’s condition, but she appeared optimistic about it.
“The good thing is he’s not backsliding. He is tolerating what they’re doing with him,” she said.
She said she hopes people will take the disease and the outbreak more seriously.
“It really is beyond me that people don’t realize how serious this is,” she said. “You hear about all the deaths, the people who are getting sick. It really is beyond me that they don’t take this seriously.”
Torda’s family had said earlier that they suspected he contracted coronavirus in Waikiki while working among tourists, but a family member now acknowledges that they are not sure where he got the disease.
Torda-Sabella wanted to thank everyone who wished Torda well, and said that about 1,700 people had reached out on social media to show their support.
“I want to extend our fondest mahalo to the people who know him … because he knew a lot of people,” she said. “We’re just overwhelmed by the aloha that the people have expressed to us — their prayers, their concerns, their prayer circles.”
There are currently 258 cases of COVID-19 reported in Hawaii, with 34 new cases — the most in one day — reported today. The disease’s mortality rate has been low in Hawaii. The one reported death in the state was an older Oahu man who was recently hospitalized and had multiple medical issues.
Though Torda-Sabella herself now has to fend off the disease, her son remains her focus.
“I’m handling it the best I can, and my main concern is getting my son better again,” she said.
Star-Advertiser reporter Kristen Consillio contributed to this report.