Highlighting Heroes: Sarasota County parents forced to quarantine away from children to keep working


SARASOTA COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen so many heroes emerge – from health care workers to grocery store clerks to parents. 

Sarasota County couple Kevin Shahan and Jessica Brandt recently had to make a hard decision: Keep working during the global pandemic or separate from their children.

“Regardless if one of us decided to take a furlough or to stop working, we would still be exposing the whole family. Neither one of us could afford to stop working,” Brandt said.

Shahan works as a mechanic while Brandt works at Goodwill handling incoming donations. They tell WFLA.com they couldn’t run the risk of exposing the virus to their two young children, Gabby and Wyatt. Wyatt, who has Down syndrome, has a compromised immune system.

“There is a reality that this is real, this is very scary,” said Brandt. “Short term vs. long term, yes it hurts my heart beyond what words can ever describe. But long term, it made the most sense because I am still able to provide for them.” 

Shahan and Brandt have now been separated from their kids for the past six weeks and have used FaceTime to communicate with them while the children are quarantined with family.  

“Luckily my parents are self-quarantining, so I was able to send them to them,” Brandt said.

“Traditional child care was not an option,” Shahan added. “I know they’re safe…they are with good people, in a safe home, in a safe environment.” 

Self-isolating away from their kids has also meant the family was unable to spend Easter together or celebrate Wyatt’s 13th birthday.  

“When this is all over, we just want to be with each other,” said Shahan. 

“FaceTime can only take you so far…being in each other’s presence is huge,” said Brandt. 

Shahan and Brandt also have three adult children, including a nurse working the front lines of the coronavirus crisis and their oldest son Graham, who is in the Army. 

If you have a hero you want to highlight – whether it be a police officer, firefighter, medical professional, cashier, child care worker, truck driver or anyone else – send their photo and name to us on social media or via email at online@wfla.com. You can also check out our Highlighting Heroes gallery.

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