'Stay home:' Central Florida family speaks out after losing father to coronavirus

The family of a man from Marion County who lost his life to COVID-19 spoke with FOX 35 News.

They want to spread a message about staying home to prevent the spread.

‘I would do anything to be cooped up in the house with my father right now,” Mike Stephens’ daughter, Jaime, said. “So, stay home. Cherish your family.”

Jamie Stephens lost her father, Mike, to COVID-19 on Sunday, April 5, which was her 19th birthday.

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“From now on, we’re just going to have to celebrate his life and her life on the same day,” Mike’s wife, Paige, said.

Jamie was the last one to see him in the hospital.

“I was thankful that I got to hold his hand and touch him one more time at least and tell him that I loved him,” Jamie said. “I don’t know if he heard it or not, I hope he did.”

The 58-year-old first started feeling coronavirus symptoms about two weeks ago.

“The biggest thing that’s sitting heavy on our hearts is that he got the test done on Saturday and didn’t find out the results until the following Wednesday,” Paige said. “So, he was in the hospital for four days before any type of treatment was even started.”

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Mike had several health problems throughout his life. He survived two heart attacks and cancer.

“That’s one of the things with this virus, it thickens your blood and puts a lot of pressure on your heart… and with him not having a strong heart to start with,” Paige said.

Doctors told the family that Mike's underlying conditions did not contribute to his death, but they did make the virus hit his body harder.

As the family moves forward, they want others to listen to the warnings and stay home.

“Nobody is invincible,” Paige said. “This is taking over people and we’re losing people that are in good health. It’s not just the ones that aren’t healthy.”

The family is holding off on funeral services for now. They are waiting for when everyone can safely gather together again.


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