COBB COUNTY, Ga. — A beloved Cobb County teacher who had been battling COVID-19 since November has died. Patrick Key’s family and friends said he passed away on Christmas morning.
“Christmas morning Heaven gained the sweetest angel this morning. Although he fought so very hard, Patrick’s poor body was so tired. He is at peace and we have lost our world. Our hearts are shattered,” a statement on a GoFundMe page for the family said.
Key taught art at Hendricks Elementary School in Powder Springs and his wife Priscella Key is a teacher at Clay-Harmony Leland Elementary in Mableton.
“We are heartbroken for the loss experienced by the Key family and Hendricks Elementary. As students and staff share stories about Patrick’s impact, we ask every student, parent, and staff member to stay as safe and healthy as possible while we beat COVID-19 as a community,” Cobb County Schools said in a statement.
Channel 2′s Michael Seiden talked to Key’s niece, Heather Welch. She said Key took the virus seriously and tried hard not to get sick.
“What makes this so hard I think in general is he did everything possible,” Welch said. “He took it so seriously. He did everything possible to prevent this exact outcome.”
Welch said she’ll remember her uncle as being funny, sarcastic and smart.
“He was also an excellent teacher because he was very kind,” Welch said. “He was very patient and he was also very talented.”
School district leaders told Channel 2′s Chris Jose in November that Patrick Key may have been exposed to the virus at school. Jose learned the teacher received a letter from public health officials.
Key’s wife told Channel 2 Action News that her husband came home from school on Nov. 6 and started to feel sick. Two days later, she came down with symptoms. The couple tested positive for COVID-19 the next day.
Six days after they got tested, Patrick Key felt worse. The Keys called 911 and paramedics rushed him to the hospital. On Nov. 18, doctors transferred Key to the intensive care unit and placed him on a ventilator and hooked him up to an ECMO life support system and kidney dialysis machine.
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Welch said that just days before his death, Key’s condition appeared to be improving.
“Within the last week, we had been told we were working toward him moving to a long term acute care center where they would’ve helped him get off the ventilator and very aggressive with physical therapy,” Welch said.
Welch wants people to know that each number in the tally of coronavirus deaths represents a person.
“It represents a family that is going through this unimaginable grief,” Welch said.