Wife of retired NWFL naval commander says his COVID-19 recovery is a ‘miracle’


PACE, Fla. (WKRG) — Retired Navy Commander Ken Karr is back walking again, and his wife Elizabeth is calling it a miracle. 

Karr is a COVID-19 survivor. He’s also a heart attack survivor. Elizabeth Karr told News 5 her 74-year-old husband’s strength and survival is a positive story that should provide hope during the sorrow of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ken Karr contracted the virus sometime before on April 1. That’s when he started feeling the symptoms.

About a week later, on April 8, he was intubated and put on a ventilator for three and a half weeks.

It left Elizabeth Karr wondering if he husband would make it out of the hospital alive.

“I was so scared,” she said. “I thought I was going to lose him.”

Ken Karr had been in the hospital just weeks before. Before testing positive for COVID-19, he survived a heart attack ‪Feb. 9‬ while on a naval aviation consulting trip in Dallas, Texas.

He had several surgeries, including having a stent, pacemaker and defibrillator put in. He fought to get well, Elizabeth Karr told News 5, but his cardiologist warned — he was not afraid of Ken Karr’s heart problems. He was afraid of COVID-19. 

While he was isolated and ventilated at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Elizabeth Karr couldn’t visit her husband. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis laid down state guidelines limiting or prohibiting visitors at hospitals during the pandemic.

She said it was difficult not being allowed to see her husband. 

“I didn’t move from the house for three and a half weeks while he was on a ventilator,” she said. “I didn’t move. I didn’t see anyone except my immediate family. I didn’t really want to see anyone. I didn’t want to miss a phone call.”

Days on the ventilator turned to weeks, but eventually, doctors were able to slowly wean Ken Karr off his ventilator. He was transferred to a speciality care facility on April 29, and on Monday, he took his first steps since April 8. 

He is no longer COVID-19 positive. He is taking his recovery one step at a time.

“He’s got a lot more fighting to do,” Elizabeth Karr said. “A lot more work with physical therapists and speech therapists, but he’ll make it.”

She said it’s a miracle.

“Prayer was something big in my life,” she said. “If I didn’t believe in God before, I believe in him now.”


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