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COVID-19 claims life of beloved Jamaican-born nurse in Florida

A Jamaican-born nurse died last week after contracting the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Florida, United States.

Earl Bailey, a 56-year-old resident of Sunrise, Florida, died at his home on Sunday, April 5, after developing symptoms of the virus two weeks ago, and being sent home to self-quarantine, according to media reports there.

Bailey, a former military officer in Jamaica who moved to the US from Canada in 2002, was a nurse for nearly 20 years. He worked for a staffing company assigned to shifts at multiple hospitals, mostly Florida Medical Centre in Lauderdale Lakes, according to interviews given by family members.

His daughter, Sashia Bailey of Pompano Beach, Florida, in one of her many interviews with the media there, said her dad died immediately “after his breathing went bad” and “before the ambulance could even be called”. His death has been particularly difficult for her, as she said it was her belief that he would beat the virus, as he was strong.

According to Broward’s Medical Examiner’s Office, Bailey went into cardiac arrest at home after being quarantined after testing positive for the virus. He is said to have had no previous medical condition.

According to his daughter, Earl Bailey was a father of five and a grandfather of five.

“My father was very strong and felt he could beat it… He was very healthy, he worked out every day, even at Florida Medical Centre. He would round up the nurses and go exercise,” Sashia Bailey told Sun Sentinel, a Florida-based newspaper.

She disclosed that her family is not aware where Bailey contracted the virus, adding that he was very cautious. She further indicated that her father’s fiancee has also contracted the virus, and she has also developed breathing challenges.

Sashia Bailey said the administration of Palmetto General Hospital, the last hospital where her father worked, had not reached out to the family, but instead his co-workers did.

However, a hospital spokesperson for Florida Medical Centre, Shelly Weiss Friedberg, who spoke to Sun Sentinel, said it had been “more than 14 days” since he worked there, and he was “asymptomatic” (showing no symptoms of the virus) at the time of his last shift there.

Meanwhile, one of Bailey’s former co-workers, Jennifer Lovelace, described the deceased Jamaican as “a man of God”.

Lovelace, who is a nurse practitioner at Florida Medical Centre, made a lengthy, heartfelt post on social media site, Facebook, and it has since been shared multiple times by several individuals, including Jamaicans.

“Another healthcare hero has fallen due to COVID 19 this morning (April 5). As a matter of fact, a super hero, a body builder, a man of God. Earl Bailey was a nurse of over 20 years, one who took myself and couple other nurses to the gym for free training three times a week before our night shifts to encourage us to stay in shape…” Lovelace wrote.

She added that he was, “One who after meds pass and break around 1am, will get some of us with similar faith in a circle and will play some of his favourite worship songs, sermons and preach to us the gospel and salvation; one who when we order pizza, will refuse to eat it, saying ‘I’m good, my wife packed me fish and yam’.

“How do we lose such a strong, physically and mentally invincible nurse…? This is unreal. Rest in perfect peace, Mr Earl. You were a gift to the nursing field and to humanity. My prayers go to the family, friends and colleagues affected by this terrible loss,” concluded Lovelace.