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"I'm already missing them" | Anderson County mother decides to distance herself from family, protecting them from COVID-19

She is on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 working as a respirator therapist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center.

ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. — An Anderson County woman on the front lines of fighting COVID-19 working as a respiratory therapist at Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center knows there's a high chance she could be exposed to coronavirus.

Yet, Kelly Johnson said she wants to keep her family safe. 

She made a heartbreaking decision to distance and separate herself from her family until everything returns to normal.

Kelly and her son, Will, are inseparable. They are together everywhere they go.

"He is my right hand," she said. "He loves his mom a lot," said Kelly's husband, Steve. 

But starting Saturday, their new normal won't be side by side. They'll be separated, only seeing each other through the phone.

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"It's gonna be hard but we're going to do our part and power through it," said Kelly. 

Will has autism and his parents said he doesn't understand social distancing. "He doesn't know how to stay away from me and if I were to get sick he wouldn't understand to stay away from me," said Kelly. 

For this reason, she is staying separated from the ones she loves most. "I'm his person so I'm protecting him and my family. My other son, Matthew, and my husband."

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Steve will take care of the boys, but worries who will take care of Kelly if she gets sick. 

"I'm not sure what it's going to be like being alone because I've never been alone when I leave work," said Kelly. 

As they're finding a way to do their part, they ask the community to do theirs. "Two weeks and let's see what we can do about this," said Steve who is urging people to stay home for their family and others waiting for this to end. 

"I'm already missing them and will look forward to seeing them," said Kelly. "Please love your families if you have the opportunity to be with them and not be separated from them."