SWFL comedian with COVID-19 warns others to take precautions

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Comedian John Loeber. Credit: Shared with WINK News.

We spoke to a Southwest Florida comedian Thursday who has the coronavirus. From the stage to a hospital bed, he wants community members to take precautions for COVID-19.

“When the bars and restaurants opened up, I was going out every night,” John Loeber told WINK News. “I wasn’t wearing a mask. I just didn’t take it seriously at all.”

Loeber is now being cared for at Gulf Coast Medical Center in south Fort Myers, undergoing test after test. Doctors told him he’s going to be there for a while.

From his hospital bed in the medical center, he told us he originally believed COVID-19 was blown out of proportion. Because, with all these numbers and cases, he didn’t know a single person who tested positive.

But, now, that person is him, and he’s fighting for his life.

Loeber, a stand-up comedian, loves to make people burst out laughing when he’s performing. But his message to all is more sobering as he deals with COVID-19 personally.

“It’s a serious condition,” Loeber said. “And, if you think that you’re not gonna get it, well, I hope you don’t, but I also thought I wouldn’t get it.”

Loeber is dealing with the coronavirus and has also been diagnosed with pneumonia. Every three hours, he has a CT scan of his lungs and has blood work done.

“No one can come to visit you,” Loeber said. “You just sit here, and luckily you have social media to connect, but like no one can stop by, say hello. They just can’t.”

And Loeber says he thought social distancing was lonely. He also thought it was a joke.

“I have not taken this seriously at all since the beginning,” Loeber said. “I thought the quarantine was overkill.”

Last Thursday, hours before a comedy show, Loeber became suddenly dizzy and sweating, so he canceled the show.

“I was all excited because I haven’t done a show in three months,” Loeber said. “So I was all ready to try out these new jokes about the quarantine, how much weight I gained during it, how difficult it was to online date.”

Now, it’s difficult for him to think about all of the precautions he never took.

“I see the numbers on the news every night,” Loeber said. “And I was like those are just numbers. How bad could this really be when the bars and restaurants opened up. I was going out every night. I wasn’t wearing a mask. I just didn’t take it seriously at all.”

“Unfortunately, I could’ve exposed other people to it and I have to live with that,” Loeber said.

Loeber said he’s now waiting on a blood transfusion to get antibodies. But he never had a fever or a cough. He originally thought what he has was vertigo, but it turned out to be the coronavirus.

A true comedian, Loeber wants to see people smile, see people healthy and never see them go through pain like his.

“I woke up today, and I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going home today.’ They’re like, ‘No, you’re not going home for a while,” Loeber said. “My lungs are getting worse and worse, so I won’t be going anywhere soon.”

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