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Houston ER doctor spends his off days building a tree house for his sons

A Houston doctor is using time away from the emergency room to build memories with his young family.

HOUSTON — Neighbors on Nextdoor are rooting for a Houston emergency room doctor. He's taking advantage of his time away from the Texas Medical Center to make memories with his two young sons. 

Last month, 8-year-old Micah helped his dad, Dr. Ben Cooper, build the framework for a tree house.

"Well, the tree house was kind of one of those empty promises that I thought we’d never get to," Dr. Cooper said. "They’ve been asking for a very long time. Oh, we’ll do that someday. We never had time to do it. And then, coronavirus hit."

The Coopers worked for three weeks to build a tree house from the ground up. Mom Ali Cooper recorded the progress on her cellphone. 

"I think being close and near to family makes everything tolerable," Dr. Cooper said. "I think a lot of families are experiencing different ways to bond."

Doctors included. 

Neighbors cheered for the Coopers. 

"They would walk by everyday and say, 'Keep up the good work,'" Ali Cooper said. "Our neighbors kind of feel ownership of it, too, because they saw it when it was the studs or when Ben was on a really tall ladder."

"It was hideous for a little while. I think there was a lot of reservation around us. But everyone was very supportive. And by the end, everyone was pretty happy with it," Dr. Cooper said. "And it’s just really fun to have something positive and joyful in the neighborhood."

There are plans to jazz up the interior. And when it's safe, neighborhood kids will be invited to climb up. 

Doctor dad, saving lives by day, while making the most of his at home.

This story came from a tip because KHOU 11 News Reporter Melissa Correa is using Nextdoor to seek out good news stories. To connect with Melissa on Nextdoor, click here. 

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Coronavirus symptoms

The symptoms of coronavirus can be similar to the flu or a bad cold. Symptoms include a fever, cough and shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Some patients also have nausea, body aches, headaches and stomach issues. Losing your sense of taste and/or smell can also be an early warning sign.

Most healthy people will have mild symptoms. A study of more than 72,000 patients by the Centers for Disease Control in China showed 80 percent of the cases there were mild.

But infections can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death, according to the World Health Organization. Older people with underlying health conditions are most at risk for becoming seriously ill. However, U.S. experts are seeing a significant number of younger people being hospitalized, including some in ICU.

The CDC believes symptoms may appear anywhere from two to 14 days after being exposed.

Human coronaviruses are usually spread through...

  • The air by coughing or sneezing
  • Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
  • Touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands.

Help stop the spread of coronavirus

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Eat and sleep separately from your family members
  • Use different utensils and dishes
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with your arm, not your hand.
  • If you use a tissue, throw it in the trash.
  • Follow social distancing

Lower your risk

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
  • If you are 60 or over and have an underlying health condition such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes or respiratory illnesses like asthma or COPD, the World Health Organization advises you to try to avoid crowds or places where you might interact with people who are sick.

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