Elkhart Mayor Roberson speaks out on personal fight with COVID-19

NOW: Elkhart Mayor Roberson speaks out on personal fight with COVID-19

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ELKHART, Ind. - As Elkhart County leaders continue to work to stop the spread of COVID-19, one now has a personal connection to that effort. Elkhart Mayor Rod Roberson tested positive for COVID-19 in early November. He's now close to his normal routine as mayor but said the road to get there was not an easy one.

"When I got the test, it was affirmed that I had it, and it rocks you," Roberson said.

Roberson said his fight with COVID-19 almost became a critical one one weekend when his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low.

"Many COVID patients actually have a freefall, unexpected," Roberson said. "So, it will go from having flu like symptoms to you just can't breathe, and that's a scary, scary notion."

That weekend was also when his staff realized something was wrong.

"I did, afterwards, talk to a couple of our executive team," Roberson said. "They said that one of the ways they found out or didn't feel me is that they didn't get a call over the weekend because I call at any time. They said one weekend, and that was one of my toughest weekends, that they didn't hear from me."

Roberson got his positive test result before Election Day, but was still able to cast his vote through special care and cooperation between election and health officials. He said the hardest part of getting through COVID-19 was the fatigue. He said even now, he is not back to 100% of the endurance he had before he contracted the virus, but the physical toll was not the only one he faced.

"The isolation piece, because we were even isolated in different rooms in the house, is really tough mentally, but also, there's a sense of isolation you get from the community," Roberson said.

The mayor said that isolation from the community only came because people were not sure how to show they cared in a way that they, themselves, would be protected. Roberson said he is about three quarters of the way back to his normal function and workload as mayor, but he said he can still adequately perform his duties because "three quarters of me is better than four quarters of some people."

Roberson said he was hoping the city's Common Council would suspend the rules to fully pass a bill supporting the County's new mask mandate. Instead the council passed the bill's first reading allowing it to move forward for a second and third reading before coming to a vote. He said he was happy to see that first step be taken.

"That's a procedural matter," Roberson said. "Sometimes in a procedural relationship, it moves a little slower than you would like for it to, the wheels of government if you will, but we did move forward."

Roberson said passing that bill would be a major step toward stopping the spread of COVID-19 in Elkhart.

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