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Richmond Hill councillor tells 'cautionary tale' of COVID infection, pleads for vigilance

Coun. Karen Cilevitz tests positive weeks after vaccine; husband still in ICU
May 12, 2021
Yoyo Yan

Richmond Hill Coun. Karen Cilevitz took to social media to share her personal story of how COVID-19 infection has affected her family, urging people to remain cautious and get vaccinated.

Cilevitz, representing Richmond Hill's Ward 5 since 2014, wrote in a Facebook post that she and her husband, Derek Christie, both tested positive at Mackenzie Health Richmond Hill Hospital in the week of April 19.

While she had received her first dose of AstraZeneca, her husband had not yet been vaccinated.

Cilevitz said the difference in the level of illness between the two is "startling." Her symptoms have been relatively mild, she said, despite her belief that she was at greater risk than Christie, given her history of severe respiratory illnesses.

The councillor said the vaccine she received four weeks ago likely protected her from becoming seriously ill.

However, her husband had to be taken to hospital after he was found "unresponsive and barely breathing," Cilevitz said. Christie was admitted to the intensive care unit where he still remains on life support, the May 5 post said.

"I have been told he could be in the ICU for four to 12 weeks. He has severe COVID pneumonia in both lungs. And I've been told he will be hospitalized for months," Cilevitz told The Liberal.

"I can't visit him yet. No one can see him or be with him. It's very difficult for the families and loved ones of hospitalized COVID patients," she said in an email.

In her post, Cilevitz encouraged people to remain extremely COVID-vigilant and to get vaccinated to safeguard themselves against severe COVID-19 illness.

"Always wear a mask when not in your own home, it protects you and others around you, asymptomatic spread and airborne transmission are a reality," Cilevitz pleaded.

"We are far from being safe. Our story here proves that. And it is imperative for everyone to be vaccinated," she said.

"I posted our story because I felt everyone needs to see this as a cautionary tale, on many fronts."