Her son Elijah Ross-Rutter told Buzzfeed she had taken herself to Providence Regional Medical Center -- where the very first confirmed case of novel coronavirus was treated -- on March 3.
"She thought she had the flu, probably," the 20-year-old said. "But like, the coronavirus? It was kind of hard for us to understand how she could get it because not that many people had it around here."
At the time, the state was reporting just 27 cases and nine deaths. As of Monday, those numbers stood at 5,161 and 217, respectively.
After spending eight hours inside a sealed room with doctors and nurses wearing full protective gear, they were eventually sent home. "They don't even want to touch my mom," Elijah said.
But four days later they had to take their mom back. This time the family were confined to the visitors waiting area, while doctors confirmed she'd have to be kept in overnight and treated for pneumonia. The next day she tested positive for COVID-19.
Unlike during her year-long cancer battle, the family were not allowed in her hospital room. Elijah, who is her fourth-oldest child, said that for a while she was able to text back; but after a while the responses turned to emojis only. "She was sending me hearts on the messages but she wasn't replying," he said.