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New Franklin police officer, who lost taste and smell, recovers from coronavirus

Posted at 4:39 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-24 13:38:37-04

NEW FRANKLIN, Ohio — During dinner with his family in late March, New Franklin Police Officer Jason Tirbovich noticed something very odd.

"The next thing I know, I told my wife I can't smell or taste anything," Tirbovich said. "It was real weird. She said, 'Well, you know that's one of the signs?'"

She was referring to the COVID-19. As a first responder, Tirbovich fell under CDC guidelines for priority testing. He was swabbed at Cleveland Clinic Akron General.

Tirbovich felt tired, but didn't have some of the classic coronavirus symptoms like a fever or a cough. He didn't suspect he had the virus, but a call from the hospital two days later revealed otherwise.

"It was actually my son's birthday and they called me back and said you tested positive for the virus," Tirbovich said.

Tirbovich, his wife and their two children were placed in quarantine for two weeks. No one else in the family got sick.

"We were stuck in the house for 14 days. It got old, but I get it," he said.

Tirbovich, who has been with the department for 18 years, believes he contracted COVID-19 from his brother who started having trouble around the same time, but was never tested.

The officer, who is no longer considered contagious, is back on the job. His taste and smell have returned and he's very thankful for all of the kindness from the community while he was out.

"We had people drop stuff at our house, food, just texts and Facebook messages," Tirbovich said.

His case makes the veteran officer wonder how many people with no or mild symptoms — like his — are walking around carrying the virus.

"It's an eye-opener because you just don't know, especially if you're around seniors," he said.

Tirbovich is also a school resource officer in Manchester School District and misses the kids. He's keeping in touch by posting weekly videos called "Tirbo Tuesday" on the New Franklin Police Department's Facebook page.

You can watch his messages to students here.

The officer stressed he and other New Franklin officers are taking precautions during the pandemic, including wearing masks while interacting with the public.

Now fully recovered from the virus, Tirbovich wanted to offer a message to the community he loves.

"I appreciate all the support," he said. "Be careful and just be safe and make sure you're doing everything you can to give everybody their space."