Coronavirus: Texas doctor branches out, self-isolates in kids’ treehouse

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — A South Texas doctor is up a tree these days -- literally.

Jason Barnes, who works in the emergency room at a Corpus Christi hospital, is self-isolating himself from his family during the coronavirus pandemic, relocating in his children’s treehouse in the family’s backyard, KRIS-TV reported.

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“Quarantine is serious,” Barnes told the television station. “But it’s the only way we’re going to beat this thing.”

Barnes, 39, who said he has treated patients who tested positive for COVID-19 at Christus Spohn Hospital, said the thought of exposing his family to the virus was “scary.”

So, Barnes searched for a way to stay isolated. He thought about buying a recreational vehicle or staying at a hotel, but the answer was staring at him in his own backyard.

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“At first it was kind of comical,” the doctor’s wife, Jenna Barnes, told KRIS. “Like ‘Oh you can just live in the treehouse?’ And the more I thought about it, I was like ‘Oh, that could work.'”

Barnes has spent nearly three weeks in the treehouse, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported. He shouts down to two sons, ages 6 and 9, and sometimes will go to the glass door of their home when he needs something.

“They’re within yelling distance,” Barnes told the newspaper. “But I can call or go up to the glass. They know not to open the door and risk catching something.”

Jason Barnes is not exactly roughing it. The treehouse is equipped with a bed, water and food. It even has a bathroom and is air-conditioned, the television station reported.

“It takes a little bit of getting used to, sleeping on a bed made out of cedar wood,” Jason Barnes told KRIS.

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It is not the most ideal setup, but the Barnes family is learning to cope.

“I can stay here and see my family every day," Jason Barnes told KRIS. "That’s really why I go to work every day -- so I can provide for them. I think I have everything but the hugs, and picking up the kids when they scrape their knees.”

“We miss him terribly, being in the house," Jenna Barnes said. “Being able to hug him and be with him daily.”

The two boys also miss their treehouse, but Jason Barnes said they understand why their dad is up a tree.

“They love that thing, but they understand so they’re not missing the treehouse, per se,” Jerry Barnes told the Caller-Times. “They tell me they miss me once a day.”

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The family believes the quarantine -- even in a treehouse -- is worth the inconvenience. Safety comes first.

“It is serious, and we’re doing it for a reason,” Jenna Barnes told KRIS. “Isolating yourself is so important right now, and it’s the only way we’re going to get through this.”

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