Retired Phoenix firefighter hospitalized for COVID-19 during holidays

Posted at 4:51 PM, Dec 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-23 19:37:48-05

PHOENIX — A Valley family is pleading for prayers and good behavior as a beloved member of it battles the coronavirus.

“Especially during the holiday season, you just don’t expect for this to happen to you or your family and then you get the call, letting you know that someone’s in the hospital that you love and care about so much,” said Amanda O’Brien.

Amanda’s grandfather Wayne Means, 70, has always been a hero. From delivering a joke at just the right time, to risking his life for years as a Phoenix firefighter.

“He had the fire truck come by our school so the other kids can learn the importance of safety and do seminars about fire escape from your house if the smoke detector goes off,” said O’Brien.

On December 9, the retired firefighter from Station 48 fell ill, soon testing positive for the coronavirus. Now at Mayo, his condition has continued to fluctuate following a virtual birthday celebration from his hospital bed.

“We’re finally back to the point of him possibly needing a ventilator again,” said O’Brien.

It’s all happening as hospitals continue to reach capacity with COVID patients now making up more than 50% of all patients in the state, according to available data.

“One of the reasons we’re seeing this dramatic rise in the state is it’s spreading household to household because of small little gatherings,” said Dr. Joshua LeBaer.

Dr. Joshua LeBaer with ASU’s Biodesign Institute received the vaccine Tuesday. Dr. LeBaer is in group 1A because he works in close contact with the public at testing locations. As a leading voice in tackling the state's data, he says it’s critical folks limit gatherings over the holiday with hospitals at a breaking point.

“That’s how these things multiply very quickly and so the idea behind staying within your own household is that then it can’t spread from one house to another and from that house to yet another house,” said Dr. LeBaer.

Yet it’s also stories from families like Means’ that should continue to motivate all of us to gift each other with good and even more importantly responsible behavior.

“You just can’t imagine them not being home for the holidays or being able to drop presents outside their house,” said O’Brien through tears. “Take the proper steps if you do test positive and have everybody do their part so we can get through this stage, and have my grandpa in their thoughts and prayers, my family truly appreciates it.”