Months later, first local COVID-19 patient still warns: 'Wear a mask'

Before Florida’s COVID-19 cases ever reached into the thousands, there was Kaelyn Sheedy.  She’s considered the first coronavirus case in Hillsborough County and among the first statewide.  

“I went through it as one of the first people. It was challenging, it was scary, there was a lot of unknowns,” Sheedy said.  

She was confirmed positive March 1 after a two-week trek in Europe.  Since that time, the state has gone through a lockdown, two phases of re-opening and 4,500 people have lost their lives. 

“I remember speaking with the CDC and the Florida Department of Health telling them at the time how unprepared everyone was,” she recalled. “I’ve had concerns from day one.”

PREVIOUS: Tampa coronavirus patient says CDC did not take her health concerns seriously

As the pandemic played out, her fears were unfortunately confirmed and, in many ways, exceeded.  

FOX 13 first spoke with Sheedy in the weeks after she’d tested negative.  Back then, 300 cases seemed like a lot. 

“I wish that there was some clearer guidelines in the beginning that everyone stuck to,” Sheedy said. 

PREVIOUS: Now healthy, Tampa's first coronavirus patient stresses importance of isolation

Fast-forward about five months and this is her message today:  

“Wear a mask, first and foremost,” she warned. “Definitely isn’t something to take lightly.”

If you feel sick:

The Florida Department of Health has opened a COVID-19 Call Center at 1-866-779-6121. Agents will answer questions around the clock. Questions may also be emailed to Email responses will be sent during call center hours.

LINK: Florida's COVID-19 website

CORONAVIRUS IN FLORIDA: What you need to know


Map of known COVID-19 cases:

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