Coronavirus in Pasco County: Pasco man shares progress since testing positive for COVID-19

Pasco County

Nurse concerned about health care workers contracting the virus

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Gene DellaSala, 46, is still at at his home in isolation.  

“While this thing is still in your system and you’re still testing positive, even though you might feel 90 percent better, I can’t stress enough you need lots of liquids, you need to rest and you need to isolate.”

DellaSalla is the first person in Pasco County to test positive for COVID-19 on March 10.

Twelve days later, he told 8 On Your Side during a Skype interview he is making progress.

“I’m not as tired,” he said. “That’s one thing. I’m not as congested. I’m not getting the chronic headaches and body pains so its been a great improvement.”

With more than 1,000 confirmed cases as of Sunday night in Florida, DellaSala said more people still need to be tested in Tampa Bay.

“I think there’s a lot more people that have this than you realize that are walking around, some people that are asymptomatic and then other people that just have a cold.”

Last Friday, DellaSala said many friends reached out thinking he passed away.  

“And then I found the health department mistakenly pronounced me dead and then it just ran into news cycles,” he said.

A former nurse at a bay area county health department reached out to 8 On Your Side Sunday because she is concerned about health care workers in Florida and nationwide contracting coronavirus.

“I think of that nurse who sits in her car every day and sits outside the hospital wondering if she should go in or not,” Anne Thomas said in a Facebook video interview from her home.

Thomas said she is hearing from friends in hospitals and seeing Facebook posts about a shortage of personal protective equipment, like masks.

“I don’t think its the hospital’s fault,” she said. “Nobody could see it coming, but we have a national stockpile.”

The FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor said on Meet the Press that states can be reimbursed by the federal government for purchasing medical supplies during this national emergency.

“We are shipping supplies every day, you know, we shipped yesterday,” Gaynor said. “We’re shipping today. We’ll ship tomorrow. Its fluid, it’s dynamic. We have hundreds of requests from governors around the country for all the same kinds of things. What we’re trying to do is, we are trying to prioritize where these limited critical resources have to go.”

Gaynor said the priorities right now are helping places like New York City, Seattle and Los Angeles.

During 8 On Your Side’s Skype interview with DellaSala, he reacted to people packing Gandy Beach Sunday afternoon despite Pinellas County shutting down public beaches until further notice.

“They want to resume their normal life,” DellaSala said. “But you kind of have to treat this as a wartime situation and you have to make the sacrifice not even for yourself, but for your fellow brethren.”

DellaSala said he will stay in quarantine until he has two negative tests in a row. He has been tested for coronavirus four times, most recently on Friday when he said his wife also got tested.

The Hillsborough County Emergency Policy group has a meeting 1:30 p.m. Monday. Tampa Mayor Jane Castor told 8 On Your Side they could move to approve a “stay at home” order for the county.

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