'Like a thief in the night:' COVID survivor and Philly police captain describes struggle with virus

A Philadelphia police officer still recovering from COVID-19 wants people to really understand this virus is no joke.

“You have nothing left. You can’t do anything,” stated Captain David Merrick.

He spent 27 on the street with Philadelphia Police Department and four years fighting cancer. But, for Captain Merrick no situation compares to his fight with COVID.

“This COVID virus is like a thief in the night. It will take your life that quickly,” Captain Merrick said.

One day in early November, he was feeling fine. The next, his fever shot up and he went to the emergency room.

“I was put on what is called a super flow oxygen, which forces air into your lungs,” Captain Merrick said.


He spent 21 days at University of Penn Hospital, several days in ICU. The veteran captain with the Narcotics Unit, in good shape, all of a sudden found it difficult to breath. But, one of the toughest parts – the hospital isolation.

“You are basically placed in a room and you are left in that room,” Captain Merrick commented.

He wasn’t allowed visitors. The only people he did see – the eyes of his medical staff through their PPE.

“There is virtually no doctor, no nurse who, if I was walking down the street, I’d be able to say thank you. So, I told each and every one of them thank you every day,” Captain Merrick explained.

Merrick was released from the hospital days after losing two longtime fellow officers and friends, COVID claiming the lives of Officer Tab Ali and Captain Frank Millilo.

“Some haven’t survived. And, some are still trying months after to recover. But, this is a job we take on,” Merrick added.

Merrick says if he didn’t go to the hospital he wouldn’t be here right now. His advice –

“My request, my hope, my prayer is anyone listening to me, if you are experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID, go to the hospital,” Captain Merrick said.



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