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FORT WALTON BEACH — Anita Kroha, a one time manager of the Destin Chamber of Commerce and co-owner of the Destin Log newspaper, is being treated for COVID-19.
Kroha, 77, is in isolation at the Fort Walton Rehabilitation Center, the only long-term care facility in Okaloosa County presently listed as housing clients or staff who have tested positive for the coronavirus.
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She shared her health status with the Daily News over the weekend. Kroha said she was diagnosed with COVID-19 last week and is hoping she will begin to rebound in her second week of treatment.
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“I don’t feel like eating anything, I’m not walking, and I’m in and out of hallucinations,” she said. “The doctor says I have to be careful with my heart. I don’t know what’s normal for this.”
Rehabilitation Center administrators did not return a phone call seeking comment.
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Florida Department of Health data from the Monday evening report indicates 25 people living in or working at long-term care facilities in the county have tested positive for COVID-19. Two have died, both since Saturday, according to the Health Department figures.
On Saturday, the Health Department listed both Fort Walton Rehabilitation Center and The Manor at Bluewater Bay as long-term health care facilities where tenants or staff had tested positive for the virus. Monday, The Manor at Bluewater Bay no longer appeared on the state list.
Officials for The Manor at Bluewater Bay said their facility’s name had been included on the state Health Department list erroneously and has since been removed for that reason.
Last week, Okaloosa County Commissioner Carolyn Ketchel confirmed an outbreak of coronavirus at local long-term care facilities.
Research showed that on April 6, when 65 people in Okaloosa County were listed as positive for the coronavirus, just two of those were residents or staff of long-term care facilities.
At the beginning of last week, there were 21 long-term care facility staff and residents infected with the disease. The number had since grown to 26 on Sunday in the county and 1,853 across the state. The state has confirmed 187 deaths to staff and residents of long-term care facilities.
Kroha said she has been in the Fort Walton Beach Rehabilitation Center for seven years, ever since being poisoned by an oleander bush.
She said she was feeling fine two weeks ago when nose swabs were administered to everyone in the facility.
“Later I got a sore throat, slight cough and had trouble breathing and sleeping,” she said in an email. “By the time I got my results back those symptoms had gone. They immediately moved me to an isolation room.”
The lifelong resident of Fort Walton Beach said the novel coronavirus is the third major flu pandemic she’s seen in her lifetime.
“Been through the Hong Kong in the 50’s, the Asian in the 60’s and now this,“ she wrote. ”They were the worst two of the century since the 1918 flu pandemic.“
Before entering the Fort Walton Beach Rehabilitation Center, Kroha lived for 50 years at the historic Duggan Guest Cottage on Brooks Street just west of Fort Walton Landing.
“Heritage Walk” a publication produced by the city of Fort Walton Beach, said the cottage was built in 1938 by Dr. and Mrs. Birney, who used it as a vacation home.
The building later was purchased by the Duggans of Crestview, who enhanced it with cypress lumber and used it as a summer home and guest cottage.
Kroha was the executive manager of the Destin Chamber of Commerce from 1975 until 1986, records show. In her position she helped film makers scout out locations to be used as the back drop for the movie Jaws II. She also obtained a role as an extra.
The weekly Destin Log, which Kroha co-owned at the time, chronicled the filming of Jaws II through photos and articles, according to reports.
Kroha also served as coordinator of the Destin Seafood Festival from 1980 to 1986.