99-year-old veteran beats COVID-19: 'It'll go away, just like the wars have gone away'

LAKE FOREST PARK, Wash. – Margarita Andrijic said the first clue that something was wrong with her boyfriend, Ed Mueller, came at dinnertime.

"I fixed his favorite supper, hamburger and french fries. He looked at it and that was it. He wouldn't touch it," she said.

The second clue came at bedtime, when Ed didn't want to get off the couch. Odd, since Margarita and Ed, both 99 years old, enjoy their nights together.

"We always sleep together – snuggle tight. We both love to cuddle. He wanted to stay put that night and slept on the couch."

Ed, an Air Force veteran who served in three wars, described the symptoms he experienced that evening.

"I lost my appetite and my smell. And kind of the desire to live, honestly," he said. "Just tired and didn't really care about anything."

Margarita started making persistent calls to Ed's doctor, and even to 911. This was March 4, before coronavirus was at the front of everyone's mind. Eventually, Ed wound up at Swedish Medical Center, where he stayed for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

Margarita said despite plenty of contact with Ed – "kiss and hug and all that good stuff" – she tested negative for the virus. She returned to her home in Lake Forest Park and started making phone calls. She called everyone the couple might have come into contact with, including the paramedics, letting them know about Ed's diagnoses.

Asked whether he was worried about dying given the risk to patients over 60, Ed said he learned a long time ago in the Air Force to accept things as they come.

"It'll go away, just like the wars have gone away," he says.

His advice for others during the pandemic? Follow the rules.

"They should follow the advice of the civic leaders that we have, the governor for instance. There's good advice out there and they should do it. Not try to synthesize and put their own ideas in," he says.

Ed is back home now, but often stays the night at Margarita's place. Although they've been dating for nine years, the two keep separate residences. They met at a senior dance in Bothell and miss the active lifestyle they enjoyed before the "Stay Home, Stay Healthy" order went into effect.

As for celebrating Ed's 100th birthday next month, plans are still up in the air.

"We don't know yet," Ed said. "We might do something that's exciting."

"Like going to bed," Margarita joked.

"Yeah, we might do that."