700,000 U.S. COVID deaths: National Cathedral bell tolls for one hour
The National Cathedral tolled its 12-ton funeral bell 700 times over one hour in memory of the 700,000 Americans who have died of COVID.
STAFF VIDEO, USA TODAY
Vincent Konidare did everything he was supposed to do.
When Florida opened up COVID-19 vaccinations in March to residents younger than 65, he seized the opportunity. The 58-year-old father of two got a dose of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson formula.
He was so glad, he sent a picture of his vaccine card on March 24 to a longtime friend and former colleague at The Palm Beach Post.
“He was so proud that he got it done,” Wanda Guerrisi said. “He thought he was doing the right thing.” He wanted to protect his family, she said, especially his daughter who has a weakened immune system.
But on Aug. 2, he tested positive for COVID-19, his daughter Valerie Konidare said. It happened a day or two after a visit from her brother’s friend, who felt sick and later tested positive, she said.
Eight days later, he was hospitalized at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. After weeks of struggle, Vincent Konidare died in the early morning of Sept. 19.
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The vaccinated rarely die from COVID-19
COVID-19 rarely hospitalizes or kills people fully inoculated against it.
Fewer than 20% of coronavirus patients hospitalized since late August in Palm Beach County were fully vaccinated, the county Department of Emergency Management reports.
Fully vaccinated people accounted for 16% of COVID-19 deaths from mid-June to mid-July, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Sept. 16. The highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus had begun surging nationwide during those weeks.
And data from 40 states shows fewer than 10 fully vaccinated people out of every 100,000 residents died from the disease, The New York Times reported in August.
Still, it didn’t make sense to Valerie Konidare. “He was perfectly healthy,” she said. “His lungs just couldn’t keep up.”
COVID-19 pneumonia was listed as a primary cause of death on his death certificate, his daughter said.
Two days before he died, he needed emergency surgery, Valerie Konidare said. A CT scan revealed a tear in his bowels. Gastrointestinal perforation has been found in some COVID-19 patients. CT scans revealed such ruptures in 3.2% of patients in a study of 412 of them published last year in the Journal of Radiology.
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Whole family tests positive for COVID
When Vincent Konidare caught the highly contagious respiratory disease, it spread to his family, who were all fully vaccinated, his daughter said.
“I had a fever and sore throat,” Valerie Konidare said, plus what felt like short-term memory loss. She had gotten the J&J vaccine, too. Her mom, Jamie Konidare, just had a “really bad cough” but never a fever.
“My husband was an amazing American who chose to be vaccinated so he could protect himself and his family,” Jamie Konidare said. “He was told by the government (to get vaccinated), and he still died.”
Even when her husband lay in the hospital, she said, he kept America in his heart. When terrorists killed 13 U.S. Marines on Aug. 26 in Afghanistan, she said, “He texted me and said, ‘You have to lower the flags at half mast.’”
Vincent Konidare met the woman who would become his wife while working at The Post. He started in 1985 at the paper as a pressman, helping to operate the printing press.
Vincent Konidare rose from pressman to advertising placement manager
It was those skills that helped him rise up the ranks to become a manager overseeing the layout of the newspaper’s advertisements in print and making sure they came out good and clear.
Vincent Konidare was in charge of the quality control of both The Post and its sister broadsheet, The Palm Beach Daily News. Average newspaper readers may take little notice of ink smudges or newsprint that looks off somehow. But not the companies paying to advertise in the paper.
Sometimes furious advertisers would call The Post to complain their ads came out wrong — maybe too dark, too light, said Guerrisi, one of his former employees. “We’d get angry people paying good money for ads and they’re not coming out well,” she said.
Vincent Konidare knew what the problem was just by looking at the paper. “He knew the ins and outs because he was a pressman,” Guerrisi said.
When The Post shut down its in-house printing press during the 2008 recession and outsourced it to cut costs, Vincent Konidare would deal with the outside printers when something went wrong with the physical paper.
He’d call them up, Guerrisi said, and tell them, “Hey, this is 100% yellow. It should be 5% yellow,” referring to ink levels of their printing presses. “I mean, he was that intricate. … If it bleeds through the other side. If you have a heavy ad on one side and the other side it’s text, nine times out of 10 if they’re too heavy on the ink it would bleed through to the other side and you would lose copy.”
“He helped our company save money while keeping an eye on the quality of our paper daily,” said Chadi Irani, vice president of advertising at the Post.
“But most importantly, he was a proud father. He (couldn’t) stop talking about his son and daughter and their achievements,” Irani said. “He taught me a lot on how to raise teenagers and I will forever cherish our conversations.”
Vincent Konidare did not go to college. He was proud his kids did. Like most children, Valerie Konidare butted heads with her dad when she was a teen. But when she grew older, she said, “we were best friends.”
Valerie Konidare remembers her father as the man who wore flip-flops on vacation during the winter in Boone and on Sugar Mountain in North Carolina. And he was the guy with a Consumer Reports subscription who people turned to when seeking advice on big purchases.
“People would ask him to go with them to buy cars,” she said. “And he wasn’t taking no for an answer.” Konidare would know what kind of fridge you should buy, she added.
In December, Konidare left The Post after working there for 35 years. He was looking forward to traveling with his wife when she retired, perhaps on his motorcycle, “Stella.”
Konidare is survived by his wife, his daughter, his son Nicholas Patrick, and three “granddogs,” his family said, Smokey, Lola, and Milo.
Chris Persaud is a data reporter for The Palm Beach Post.