I-TEAM: COVID-19 survivors share stories of hope as they celebrate Thanksgiving

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — This Thanksgiving weekend, we found people who’ve survived COVID-19 opening up to the FOX 8 I-TEAM.

Former patients are looking at life in a new way.

“I feel terrifically terrific,” Leo Masztak said.

And Donny Riccitelli said, “I have to say, ‘What am I not thankful for?’”

The I-TEAM went back to some of your neighbors we met many months ago as they battled the coronavirus and beat it.

We found them appreciating Thanksgiving weekend as they never have before.

George and Toni Faison both work two jobs, and both tested positive for COVID-19.

George Faison said this week, “By us testing positive, it definitely put a different light on a lot of stuff we took for granted. So, we really are just thankful to be alive. We thank God for pulling us through it.”

Donny Riccitelli nearly died from coronavirus. A family man from the Mahoning Valley, he spent tense time in the hospital with a skyrocketing fever.

For this story he said, “I’m really thankful I got out of it healthy. And I’m really glad that my family was able to come out of it and not even have any symptom, or anything like that.”

We also caught up again with Leo Masztak.

Just as the coronavirus began to make headlines around the world, the I-TEAM revealed Leo tested positive for COVID on a cruise. He ended up in hospital in Japan. His wife, Diane, ended up quarantined in Japan away from him. The couple spent weeks separated in a foreign country far from home in Northeast Ohio.

Leo Masztak said, “I’m still here. It was a bit shaky. 2020 was a bit shaky for me, but I’m still here. I still got Diane with me. That’s a big plus.”

Over the course of the year, the I-TEAM tracked many other survivors, too. Their stories provided some hope in this world health crisis.

Of course, we’ve also reported on people in Northeast Ohio losing their lives to COVID -19. So, consider an appeal from Diane Masztak to help slow the spread.

“Let’s get over it. Let’s get on with our lives. I think there’s so much more to do,” she said.

COVID-19 survivors are already looking forward to the next Thanksgiving weekend.

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