A Florida father whose battle with COVID-19 led his wife to publicly plead for young people to take the coronavirus seriously was released from the hospital Thursday.
John Place and his entire family tested positive for the coronavirus after his 21-year-old son fell ill and learned that a friend he had hung out with was infected, Place’s wife said in a Facebook Live video in June.
Place, who is diabetic, got sick the day after Father’s Day and suffered the most serious symptoms in his family. He was hospitalized and placed on a ventilator after his condition worsened.
On Thursday, family and friends gathered outside Westside Regional Medical Center in Plantation, about six miles west of Fort Lauderdale, to celebrate his release.
In a Facebook Live video shared by his wife, Michelle Zymet, Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” blared in the background as the group — all wearing face masks — eagerly awaited Place’s arrival. When he was wheeled outside, the crowd erupted in cheers.
Place, wearing a T-shirt that read “I’m Alive,” appeared to get emotional as he waved to the crowd and hugged his family.
“I want to thank all the doctors and nurses and health care professionals here at Westside Regional Medical Center. They saved my life,” he said outside the hospital. “And to all the nurses and doctors out there, you’re doing an amazing job. Thank you so much. I feel great!”
Following Zymet’s Facebook Live video last month about her husband’s plight, she said in an interview with MSNBC that she had pleaded with her son not to go out because she was concerned about the family getting sick.
“The younger generation, they just don’t get it. They don’t care; they don’t think. I’m not quite sure what it is they don’t get,” she said on MSNBC. “Our son, he was cooped up for a while and when the state lifted up and you could get out again and we weren’t in quarantine, he decided he wanted to go out and hang out with his friends.”
She said she decided to share her story to encourage younger people to take the virus seriously.
“We are trying to open everyone’s eyes that by not wearing a mask, washing your hands frequently and by not social distancing you are putting yourself at risk and of those at home that you love … each and every day,” she wrote in a Facebook post.
Place told NBC Miami that he has a lot of things planned now that he’s out of the hospital.
“This is a life-changing experience,” he said. “I’m going to make the best of it. I have new plans and things that I’m going to do to hopefully make a difference. First thing I want to do is donate plasma as soon as I can because somebody helped save my life with their plasma.”