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Akron radio host recovering from coronavirus: 'I could have died'

Posted at 5:20 PM, Apr 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-02 20:08:29-04

AKRON, Ohio — An Akron radio personality recovering from the coronavirus is urging people to stay home as much as possible and to practice social distancing as state officials prepare for a possible surge in cases.

"I beg of you. I plead with you. I grovel with you. It's that important to listen. This is not fun and games. This is real life," said Jim Isabella who hosts an evening show on WNIR. "I could have died and I was blessed that I was not on a ventilator. I was blessed."

Isabella's illness began on Monday, March 9 when he developed a nagging cough. By Thursday of that week, he could barely finish his show. His condition worsened and a few days later, Isabella was admitted to UH Parma Medical Center.

Doctors first diagnosed him with pneumonia. He was swabbed and placed in isolation. Two days later, Isabella learned he was the hospital's first positive COVID-19 case.

"I was in shock. I wasn't scared. I was shocked," Isabella said. "I don't know how I got it. I have no idea how I got it."

Isabella spent four days in the hospital and stressed excellent care on the fifth and eighth floor made a huge difference in his recovery.

"God bless the people at Parma Hospital," he said.

Isabella said he's feeling a little stronger each day and is using inhalers to help build up his strength. As a radio host, talking is vital to his job, but he said it's still challenging to do that for long periods of time.

The host, who is no longer under quarantine, wants to get back on the air as soon as possible, but doesn't have a date for his return yet.

"To my listeners, please be patient," he said. "It's getting better. I'll be back as soon as I can."

Amy Driscoll, a Hudson mother, also experienced a rough bout with the coronavirus and is on the road to recovery.

She was diagnosed on March 12 and her symptoms included a cough, difficulty breathing and a repeated fevers. Her case was also considered community spread.

"The beginning of last week started with the fever again. Fevers at 102. My chest hurt. My belly hurt," Driscoll said.

Three weeks after her diagnosis, Driscoll is just starting to feel like herself again.

"I'm better, still weak and get tired very easy, but I'm definitely getting better," she said.

Driscoll has also been released from quarantine. However, she rarely leaves the house.

On Wednesday, she made her first trip to a grocery store and wore a mask and gloves, even though doctors told her she is no longer contagious. She was bothered that some of the shoppers were not practicing social distancing.

"I was just concerned that I didn't see a lot of people concerned for themselves with kids in the grocery store," Driscoll added.

Isabella and Driscoll both stressed that Northeast Ohioans need to abide by guidelines to avoid large gatherings and stay home unless it's for an essential reason.

"This is serious," Isabella said. "Don't be selfish."