‘I could’ve been dead today’: Putnam County Sheriff’s father looks back at battle with COVID-19

PUTNAM COUNTY, Fla. — Today, Danny DeLoach’s glow has returned. But exactly one year ago, he was admitted to the Putnam Community Medical Center with a bad case of COVID-19.

DeLoach had gotten vaccinated just days earlier, but it was too late.

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He would spend the next 47 days in the hospital fighting for his life.

“I looked like a skeleton that had bubble gum stretched over it,” Danny DeLoach recalled.

His son, Putnam County Sheriff Gator DeLoach, says there were days he thought he’d lose his father.

“We would get news that Dad was doing well, and then hours later or the very next day we would get a phone call that there was another complication,” Gator DeLoach said.

Danny DeLoach is a fighter. He’s worked hard all his life, and that’s what kept him going.

“You keep fighting and you keep a good attitude and a will and a ‘want to.’ I could’ve been dead today, but as Gator said, I’ve always fought my whole life, and I’ve worked hard my whole life, and had I not, I don’t think I’d have been here today,” Danny DeLoach said.

He wasn’t ready to give up on spending time with his family, sharing his passions with his 14 grandchildren, and doing the hobbies he loves, like rodeo and horseback riding.

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Right now, hundreds of families in the area are going through what the DeLoaches did.

Hospitals in the Action News Jax viewing area are reporting a rise in COVID-19 patients.

Ascension St. Vincent’s reports 118 COVID-19 patients across its three hospitals, including 23 in the ICU. The hospital system says 91% of its COVID-19 patients are unvaccinated.

Across Baptist Health’s five hospitals, which includes Wolfson Children’s Hospital, there are 215 COVID-19 patients, including 18 in the ICU. The hospital system says 73% of its patients ages 5 and older have not been fully vaccinated.

Flagler Hospital reports 52 COVID-19 patients, including eight in the ICU. The hospital says just over 46% of them are unvaccinated.

UF Health reports 130 patients with COVID-19, including 13 in the ICU.

Gator DeLoach says his family is very grateful to the team of doctors and nurses who cared for his father.

“They were so kind and compassionate, and I just hope that everyone realizes what an asset we have here with our local hospital and to never discount the level of care that you can receive at a community hospital like this,” he said.

Danny DeLoach still has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he’s thankful for another lease on life. His advice to anyone who will listen: stay active.