Wife of Clayton firefighter hospitalized due to COVID-19 speaks out

Johnston County News

CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — The community is rallying around a local fire department hard hit by COVID-19.

As CBS 17 reported, almost half of the Clayton Fire Department tested positive for the virus. Two firefighters remain in the hospital.

“It’s mentally exhausting,” Kristy Dean said.

Dean is trying her best to hold it together, caring for her two girls as her husband, Jason remains in the hospital on a ventilator. He tested positive for COVID-19.

“He just continued to get worse. Day by day. He got to the point where it was getting difficult for him to take regular breathes,” Dean said.

CBS 17 first told you about the Clayton Fire Department two weeks ago when eight firefighters came down with the virus. Monday we learned it had grown to 17. Four of them hospitalized along with one of their spouses. Fortunately, two of those firefighters have since been released.

Dean said Jason’s condition is improving, but progress is slow.

“It has become more difficult for him. We’re not able to speak directly to him right now and that’s really hard, hard for us,” she said.

Dean is not used to seeing her husband, a dedicated Assistant Fire Chief who leads his team, training on ropes and water rescues in a hospital bed.

But she said the town has stepped up.

“The love and support from the community is overwhelming, it’s helping to offset the mental exhaustion that we’re experiencing,” Dean said.

Over the last few days, people have been dropping off donations to Clayton High School. The locker room filled with water, food and supplies.

“It’s just what we do. If you live in the town of Clayton we support each other,” Dr. Bennett Jones, the principal of Clayton High School said.

Local fire departments also assisting with mutual aid as well as money, donating about $7,000 to the Clayton Firefighters Association.

As soon as he’s released from the hospital, Kristy said Jason would be back at work. He’s been with the Clayton Fire Department for 23 years.

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