“We kept kind of joking about it, like, ‘Oh, this is crazy! This is not going to affect us, why is everyone so wigged out about it?’ And then it did,” she said. Reading about Mr. Frilot, she added, put it into perspective for her.

On Facebook, Kathy Perilloux shared a similar conversion. Before March 16, Ms. Perilloux’s page was almost solely posts questioning the severity of the virus. March 10: “Hurricane Corona …. HYPE …. sigh,” she wrote. (“I stole that from Rush, but I was thinking the same before he said it!!!!!” she added in a comment.)

Then Ms. Perilloux commented on Ms. Frilot’s post: “Your story puts a real face on a real danger, that’s what had been missing.” She hasn’t posted anything else about the pandemic.

Since Friday, March 13, Mark Frilot has managed just two breaths on his own.

Heaven Frilot is undergoing her own struggle for air. They had plans: Disney World for Easter, when Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway would finally be open. More date nights at the Ritz, where they liked to listen to Jeremy Davenport play. “They just kept saying over and over that the people at risk were the elderly and those with underlying conditions,” Ms. Frilot said. “And we’re none of that.”

“This could have happened to anyone.”

Ms. Frilot was last with her husband when he was in the E.R., even after doctors decided to test him for the virus. She was asked to wear a mask. The mood was tense, chaotic, and she remembers the way the doctors and nurses looked at him. Like they were “scared,” she said, like “they didn’t want to come in the room.”

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She later learned that her husband was the hospital’s first patient to test positive for the virus. The looks of fear, she now thinks, reflected how unprepared they were.

What she doesn’t understand is how, where, her husband contracted the virus in the first place. They hadn’t traveled at all in the last month, and Mr. Frilot usually works in a small satellite office. She worked up a list of everything they had done the week before her husband got sick, then contacted people whom they might have been around. “That was horrible,” she said.



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