COVID-19 hits two Central Florida politicians

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One said he has been fully vaccinated since February.

COVID-19 is taking a toll on Central Florida politicians — one who says he was vaccinated against the virus and another who reportedly dismissed reports of the pandemic as a hoax.

Volusia County Council member Fred Lowry has been hospitalized with COVID-19, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Lowry, the pastor of Deltona Lakes Baptist Church, has not been at a County Council meeting since Aug. 17. His hospitalization and double pneumonia diagnosis was announced Tuesday by County Council Chair Jeff Brower, the newspaper reported.

County Councilwoman Billie Wheeler, told the paper that Lowry had been hospitalized since Monday, after being treated with monoclonal antibodies on Friday.

“He’s pretty darn sick,” Wheeler told the paper.

Lowry’s May 30 sermon called Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, “Dr. Falsey.” That and other claims in the sermon sparked calls in June from the Volusia County Democratic Black Caucus that Lowry should resign from the County Council, according to the Daytona Times.

Lowry has served on the Deltona City Commission and began serving on the County Council in 2015, winning reelection in 2018.

Meanwhile, Robert Wilford, an Alachua City Commissioner, announced his and his wife’s diagnosis with the virus Tuesday, on his Facebook page. Wilford has been quarantining since Aug. 22, he said.

He said he believed he was infected at a mid-August meeting of the Florida League of Cities.

“I can’t think of anywhere else I might have gotten it,” he said.

He said he would have suffered more if he hadn’t been vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Word of advice … get vaccinated, wear a mask, and social distance as much as possible,” Wilford wrote. “Our doctor told us the infected patients like us who got vaccinated are mostly being treated at home. Those who were not vaccinated and required hospitalization are deathly sick.”

Wilford has served four terms on the City Commission. Wilford told his 4,200 Facebook friends that surviving Stage 4 cancer and a car wreck that broke two of his vertebrae makes him confident he can beat this as well. He had taken a break from posting about America’s World War II heroes because he found it hard to concentrate.

“Although I still feel weak, I am finally gaining back some strength and do not have that nagging dry cough which has made sleep virtually impossible,” he wrote.

Wilford was fully vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine in February, he said. His infection is known as a breakthrough case that is relatively rare; the vaccines are 80-90% effective, according to the World Health Organization.

“I think the good Lord still has plans for me yet,” he said.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected]


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