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Jazz Arts Group CEO On Surviving COVID-19: 'It Takes A While To Get Your Strength Back'

Press Southworth III, left, survived his battle with COVID-19.
Kimberlee Goodman
Press Southworth III, left, survived his battle with COVID-19.

Press Southworth III, CEO of the Jazz Arts Group, is among the more than 15,000 Ohioans who have contracted COVID-19 and lived to tell the story.

“I’d like to say that I’m about 95% back with my strength,” Southworth says. "After you lay in a hospital bed for 11 days, it takes a while to get your strength back."

Southworth's journey with the coronavirus started when he came down with a fever in late March. He was admitted to Riverside Methodist Hospital where he tested positive for COVID-19.

Within a couple of days, doctors had to intubate Southworth to help him breathe more easily.

"I do have some remnants from being intubated in terms of a rough throat that sometimes, if I'm talking too long, I end up with a cough,” Southworth says.

Southworth spent nine of his 11 days at Riverside in the ICU. He remembers most of his time at the hospital, except the first couple of days.

“I remember how great the nurses were, how caring they were and accommodating, and they were amazing,” Southworth says. “And to think, you know, that they came into that room every day when you know when there was COVID-19 in the room. That was the most impressive thing."

Southworth, 72, is also a cancer survivor. He thinks he contracted the coronavirus from his dentist, who also came down with the disease before him.

He says Jazz Arts Group received a loan through the federal Paycheck Protection Program that will enable him to pay his 10 employees for a couple of months. But he still worries about other artists in Central Ohio.

“We have teaching artists,” Southworth says. “We also have a group where we do events for corporations, so weddings, things like that, so those artists, sometimes you hear them on the news, the 1099 artists, they’re really struggling because we don’t have those engagements right now.”

Southworth says he supports Ohio's stay-at-home order, and he implores others to watch for any signs they may have COVID-19.

“Follow the directions of your doctor, you know, get to the hospital if you really do have the symptoms, and stay positive,” Southworth says.

Debbie Holmes has worked at WOSU News since 2009. She has hosted All Things Considered, since May 2021. Prior to that she was the host of Morning Edition and a reporter.