Bernice Chacon is now well on her way to 100. She first will celebrate her 96th birthday in March.

And her family is looking forward to “many more” birthdays for his mother said her son, Phillip Chacon.

The Porterville family is thankful their matriarch has recovered after contracting COVID-19. And one of Chacon's birthday presents will come when she's able to receive her first dose of a vaccine on March 2.

When one looks at Chacon now, one would never know she ever had the coronavirus. As the saying goes, she looks “fit as a fiddle.” “I'm doing better,” she said.

But she admits when asked what she took from her experience, Chacon said “I can't really say because I don't remember too much of it.”

Chacon, though, added “I feel like my old self again.” And the family knew that was becoming the case toward the end of Chacon's hospital stay.

“She was getting a little grumpy,” said her daughter, Benita Castillo. “We knew she was getting better. She kept telling them, 'I'm ready to go home.'”

Still, it's been a remarkable recovery for Chacon, who has been able to return home. “She's made a dramatic recovery from the way she was,” said Chacon's son, Mario Chacon.

The family credits Sierra View Medical Center and the Porterville Alternate Care Site, which was developed to help care for COVID-19 patients, with Chacon's recovery.

“We think that Sierra View provided her great health care,” said Castillo. “They went the extra mile. They gave all the correct medicines.” Those medicines included three doses of remdesivir, Phillip said.

The family also stresses the importance of wearing a mask, social distancing and avoiding large gatherings.

Chacon contracted the virus from her 93-year-old sister, Rosa Becerra, who came from Bakersfield to visit just for a few hours on December 27, said Chacon's daughter-in-law, Rachel Chacon. “We didn't think anything of it” at the time, Phillip said.

But two days later, Chacon's sister was diagnosed with COVID-19. Sadly, Chacon's sister died. But Phillip said his mother does have the memory of being able to be with her sister during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

Rachel remembers all of the key dates of her mother-in-law's saga. On December 31 Bernice tested negative for the virus.

But on January 11 she wasn't feeling well and was taken to the hospital. She was told she had pneumonia.

But on January 14 she was feeling bad enough that she had to be taken to the hospital again. This time within an hour, Rachel said her mother-in-law was told she had COVID-19.

She stayed at Sierra View for several days and then was transferred to PACS. At 4 p.m. January 24, Bernice was released and able to come home.

Bernice is still recovering and continues to get better. When she was first released she needed to use a wheelchair but now has been walking with a walker for about a week. “Slowly but she's doing it,” Rachel said.

As a result Rachel tested positive and Phillip's and Rachel's son tested positive for the virus as well. But now the entire family is healthy and doing well.

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