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Consumers Energy Employee Survives COVID-19
September 2020

After a harrowing battle with the coronavirus, Consumers Energy gas distribution employee Eric Florka feels fortunate to have survived and is urging people to wear masks to protect themselves and others.

Florka contracted COVID-19 in April and spent 44 days in the hospital with a 105-degree temperature that ravaged his body to the point his limbs were incapacitated. He said his family was told death was near.

“This virus is the real deal, I can’t stress it enough,” said Florka, who lost 40 pounds in two weeks. “Do what you can to protect yourself and your loved ones from this deadly disease. Start by masking up. It’s really not too much to do to protect yourself and those around you.”

Florka, a 21-year Consumers Energy employee, said he still experiences guilt about his life being spared while more than 190,000 people have died in the pandemic’s wake. “It’s something I think about all the time,” he said. 

The battle begun on April 9 when a coworker said he didn’t look or sound well. He figured it was just allergies but went home for the day as a precaution.

Over the next several weeks, Florka discovered how devastating COVID-19’s grip can be. Along with the high fever, he was so weak he couldn’t walk and lost his sense of smell.

Fortunately, a match for Florka’s blood plasma was found. Within days of receiving a transfusion, he was on his way to recovery. 

Now that he has recovered, Florka is back to work full-time and said he feels like a different person — one who is grateful to breathe in fresh air, play golf with his son, watch his daughter ice skate, and have family dinners.

“I’m not supposed to be here,” he said. “I vowed when I was laying in that hospital bed for all of those days that when I got home, I would discover something new each day. Do something that I have never seen, heard, or smelled. I have done that every day since I have been out. I will for the rest of my life.”

Watch an interview with Eric Florka about his story of survival on EEI’s YouTube page​.