Illinois coronavirus: From deaths to survivors, COVID-19 leaves lives permanently changed

CHICAGO (WLS) -- As of Friday, March, 27, 34 people in Illinois have died of the novel coronavirus and more than 3,000 are battling to recover.

Michael Bane, 42, is back in the intensive care unit more than a week into his fight against COVID-19.

"This is what can happen to someone that is not deemed as a high-risk person for the illness," he warned. "It is very real."

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The Berwyn father is being treated for high fevers, intense body pain and an unbearable cough. He said he was feeling better until Thursday. He said his oxygen levels dropped drastically when he bent down to get something off the floor, leaving him fighting for his next breath.

"When I tried to get back up I did not have air. It was the most panic-inducing experience I have ever had," Bane said.

Others have battled the virus and are now OK, like 68-year-old Tom Panocha. He was the first person in the U.S. to contract the virus from someone in the country.

"When they told me I had it I did not feel bad enough to feel like anything was drastically wrong," he said.

Panocha said he got the virus from his wife, who flew back to Chicago in January from Wuhan, China. He has other health conditions, but said he recovered within less than one week and was cleared to go back to work 18 days after testing positive.

"Last year I had pneumonia and I felt worse with the pneumonia than I did with this," he said.

As the number of coronavirus cases climb, the death toll climbs along with it. A South Side Chicago family lost two sisters to the virus in just over a week.

Patricia Frieson, 61, died on March 16 after testing positive for COVID-19. Her 63-year-old sister Wanda lost her life on Wednesday after her own battle with COVID-19.
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