Widow of Florida police officer who died of COVID supports states
Inside the police headquarters in St. Petersburg, Karen Weskov never wanted to be here surrounded by cameras and talking with a newspaper reporter.
“Here we are,” Weiskopf said. “It’s still surreal,” she said.
Less than a month ago, Weiskopf lost her husband of nearly 20 years to COVID-19. Michael Weiskopf was an 18-year veteran of the Saint Petersburg Police Department. He recently worked as a traffic homicide investigator.
“I take it hour by hour, day by day,” Weiskopf said in her first session interview since her husband’s death. Her husband died on August 27, after an uphill 28-day battle with the virus, which started with a slight headache, but she moved him to the intensive care unit about a week later.
“It all happened very quickly,” she said of her husband, whom she described as strong and healthy before COVID-19.
On the day of his death, Ms Weiskopf received an early morning call from the intensive care unit where her husband had been intubated for weeks after being hospitalized with pneumonia caused by the coronavirus.
“The nurse was waiting, she raised her arms and said I’m so sorry we worked on it for two hours, and Mike didn’t work. No, no, that can’t be, that can’t be,” she said.
The news came as a shock a day earlier, and Weiskopf said doctors had told her he was showing signs of improvement and were planning to “fast track” him from the ICU.
“He was supposed to come home,” she said.
Weiskopf is now speaking out to warn others who, like her husband, might resist it
Take the vaccine. While she was vaccinated, her husband refused to take it. “There was a lot of information floating around, he didn’t have all the facts,” she said of why her husband wasn’t vaccinated.
“My goal is to make sure no one goes through what they went through. There wasn’t a single day, an hour, a single moment they didn’t suffer,” she said. “It didn’t have to happen.”
More than 650 officers nationwide have succumbed to the coronavirus, according to the Fraternal Police Order (FOP), which tracks reported deaths.
Florida has reported at least 63 deaths so far according to the FOP, second only to Texas.
But while the number of deaths among men and women who wear the armband continues, the industry remains reluctant to support mandatory vaccinations.
“As a union president, we don’t like being assigned or pushed into anything like that,” said John Kazanjian, director of the Florida Police Charitable Association, the state’s largest police union.
So far, a small group of Florida cities and counties have agreed to mandates for the vaccines although law enforcement officers have largely not been included because unions, in general, would not support them.
Earlier this week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced that he would fine local governments that mandate firing on city and county employees.
Karen Weiskopf supports mandatory vaccinations for government employees.
“If you’re dealing with the public, why don’t we? Why don’t we? Go get a vaccine, if you need to go with you, I’ll go with you,” she said.
What she said she witnessed and lost with her husband left a heavy price that she will spend the rest of her life trying to overcome.
“I said is there any way I could go to sleep and die from a broken heart because it would be so much easier,” she said, sobbing.