gay couple Tsai-Brooks and Brooks died of coronavirus
Live Oak Mayor Mary Dennis is flanked by City Councilman Anthony Brooks, right, and Economic Development Corporation board member Phillip Tsai-Brooks. (Facebook)
3 min read

A gay couple, married barely five years, died within days of each other in the same hospital, victims of the deadly coronavirus.

In the small community of Live Oak, an outer region of San Antonio Texas, Councilman Anthony Brooks and businessman Phillip Tsai-Brooks were a well-known couple, dedicated community leaders proud to contribute to the suburb they called home.

Brooks, 52, an Air Force veteran, was a resource analyst at the Army Medical Command at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston. He first was elected to the Live Oak City Council in 2015 and was re-elected in 2017 and 2019.

Tsai-Brooks, 42, was the owner of Extreme Opulence Hair Studio just outside Shavano Park. He was on the board of the Live Oak Economic Development Corporation and previously had served on the suburb’s zoning board of adjustment.

Brooks and Tsai met at a friend’s party in Houston and hit it off from the beginning, family members recalled. On March 29, 2014, they were married in San Francisco.

Phillip Tsai-Brooks, left and his partner Anthony Brooks on their wedding day. (Facebook)
Phillip Tsai-Brooks, left and his partner Anthony Brooks on their wedding day. (Facebook)

In mid-March Brooks returned from an out-of-town conference, feeling sick. A few days later, Tsai-Brooks started feeling sick, too. In amongst their illness, they were preparing a funeral for Brooks’ ailing father, James Brooks, who had just died on March 12, only two months following his Mother’s death in January.

On March 20, Tsai-Brooks went to the emergency room, suffering chills and body aches.

The doctor thought he might be having a bad reaction to a whooping cough vaccination he had recently had and gave him medications, ordering him to “lay off for 11 days … no work, quarantine for those days,” as Tsai-Brooks noted on Facebook.

But on March 26, he was back at the hospital’s emergency room with a fever of 102.9, short of breath, vomiting blood. This time, he was given a test, and it was positive for novel coronavirus.

“Be here for a couple of days,” Tsai-Brooks wrote in his last Facebook post, “then quarantine 14 days.”

He never came home.

Brooks had continued to feel poorly. At one point, he did go see a doctor, his in-laws said. He was diagnosed with pneumonia and given medication. But after that, Brooks refused to seek medical treatment, his in-laws said, even after Tsai-Brooks was diagnosed with COVID-19.

On March 31, Brooks wasn’t responding to calls from his Fort Sam colleagues, so they called police and requested a welfare check. Officers found him unconscious on a living room sofa, Tsai-Brooks’ brother said. He was rushed to the Hospital, where he tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Both men “were on ventilators and were given the hydroxychloroquine cocktail,” Robert Tsai said to San Antonio-Express, referring to an experimental coronavirus treatment.

Brooks underwent ECMO, extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, an advanced life support technique used for patients with life-threatening heart and/or lung problems.

Easter morning, Robert Tsai said, his brother seemed to be progressing.

“He was responding to the nurses and seemed to be in good spirits. Overall, we thought he would make it,” Robert Tsai said. “We were given the opportunity to video chat with Phil on Sunday early evening. By the time I was able to join the video chat Phil had a little trouble breathing so the nurse cut the session short.”

But Brooks wasn’t doing well.

Later that evening, Robert Tsai fielded a phone call from the hospital’s night shift doctor, sparking concerns about Brooks.

“I immediately thought something happened to Tony,” Robert Tsai recalled. “It was actually about Phil.”

The doctor told him that when he made his early rounds, Tsai-Brooks had given him a thumbs-up sign.

“A bit later, Phil’s heart stopped. They tried for 38 minutes to resuscitate him, but weren’t able to do so.”

Tsai Brooks died Sunday night.

Brooks, who had improved some after the ECMO treatment and a plasma transfusion, stopped responding. He died Tuesday night. Alfred Tsai said he doesn’t know whether Brooks knew that the love of his life was gone.

His brothers-in-law and mother-in-law, they say, take solace in the thought that the two men are together.

“Tony Brooks and Phillip Tsai loved each other so much, and they left this world together,” Alfred Tsai said. It’s a love story that ended too soon in this world, but in heaven, it will last for eternity.”

Live Oak City Manager Scott Wayman said Brooks served the city well during his terms on the council.

“Anthony had worked for the city of San Antonio for several years, for the budget office,” Wayman said. “He was someone who knew his way around a budget. He had a good idea of how cities function, because he knew of those intricacies from his time in San Antonio.”

Wayman said Tsai-Brooks had served on the Economic Development Corporation for nearly four years.

“Being a small business owner himself, he was always insistent on helping small businesses in the city,” Wayman said.

Phillip Tsai is survived by his mother and four brothers, Alfred, Robert, Edwin and Anthony Tsai.

An only child, Brooks’ only survivors are in his in-laws.

Since the coronavirus outbreak became public late last year, it has claimed more than 35,000 lives in the United States alone and over 168,000 globally.

Thanks to San Antonio-Express news.

Last Updated on Apr 21, 2020


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