At 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, over 100 people lined Main Street in Emporia to welcome home Karen Taylor, the Emporia City Treasurer who spent 157 days battling COVID-19. Members of the Greensville County and Emporia City Sheriff’s Departments escorted Taylor through town as she returned home Tuesday.
The vehicle carrying Taylor was adorned with phrases celebrating her victory. The side window read “Final Score: Karen & God = 1, COVID-19 = 0” and the back window read, “after 157 days Karen is going HOME!”
The parade was the idea of Taylor’s brother, Mike Allen. He recruited the help of Emporia City Sheriff Keith Prince to lead the drive through town.
“I just thought it would be a big morale booster, and I think she really appreciated it,” Allen said. “We put it out on social media. [Prince] told me it was just a ton of people lined up on Main Street with posters. And when we got down to her house, it was probably 50 people standing at the driveway with posters, waving and clapping.”
Taylor’s long fight with COVID began in January, when she first tested positive for the virus, according to Allen. After developing severe respiratory symptoms, Taylor was taken to Chippenham Hospital in Richmond. From there, she went to Vibra Hospital of Richmond for rehabilitation.
Unfortunately, while at Vibra, Taylor suffered a relapse in her recovery and had to be taken to St. Mary’s Hospital in Richmond. She then received long-term acute care (LTAC) from Post Acute Medical Special Hospital in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, before finally finishing her journey at Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital in Petersburg, Virginia.
Allen said the virus and rehab took a tremendous toll on Taylor both mentally and physically. During the early stages of her battle, hospitals were not allowing visitors for COVID patients. Taylor was isolated and away from her husband, family and loved ones.
Physically, the virus dealt severe respiratory damage to Taylor’s lungs. She also lost a great amount of muscular function from being confined to her hospital bed for so many months. Part of Taylor’s extensive rehab was learning to walk again. She still needs a constant supply of oxygen to assist her breathing.
“She still has a ways to go,” Allen said. “She’s going to have to do physical therapy and rehab at home, but from where she was at to where she’s at now, she’s almost 100% better.”
“Living in a small town, usually people look after each other and come together at a time like this, and I know she definitely appreciated yesterday.”