Tampa city councilman thankful after surviving battle with coronavirus

Local News

TAMPA (WFLA) – City councilman Orlando Gudes has a lot to be thankful for on Thanksgiving after being hospitalized over the summer with COVID-19.

“Thankful that I can see my family,” he told 8 On Your Side. “My mother, my father, my brothers and my sisters my grandkids, which one of my grandkids had a birthday today, just grateful to be here you know.”

Thanksgiving looked different for Gudes, like it did for many families trying to celebrate safely in Tampa Bay.

“I call it a drive-up Thanksgiving,” he said. “I drive up, blow the horn, they bring me a plate, I drive off and head back to the house. That’s what I did at my mother’s place today and my good friend who lost her sister dude to COVID, went to her place.”

The Tampa city councilmember said COVID-19 elevated his blood sugar and caused him to lose his vision.

“That was a scary moment in time when I could hardly see,” Gudes said. “I was just glad I had some friends who got me to a hospital and they were able to pump that medicine in me to where I could start regaining my sight.”

Gudes said he is thankful for the doctors and nurses at Tampa General Hospital who took care of him for three days.

“Some of those are working today,” he said of frontline health care workers. “They don’t get a break. I know as a retired police officer I worked most weekends, hardly ever got a weekend or a holiday off.”

People need to continue taking pandemic precautions to protect themselves and the more vulnerable members of the community, Gudes said.

“Have common sense,” he said. “Listen to the doctors, the professionals. Listen to people who have had this disease. It is no joke. I know we have to work, I know we have to businesses open but at the same time we have to be cautious and careful of our surroundings.”

Gudes said another lesson from his coronavirus battle is to encourage other men, especially African American men, to not be afraid to go to the doctor for yearly check-ups.

The Florida Department of Health did not provide a coronavirus update on Thursday because of the holiday.

The state is on pace to become the third in the nation with more than a million coronavirus infections in early December.

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