Winter Party Attendee With Coronavirus Fighting for His Life

In a Facebook post, the Winter Party Festival said Ron Rich, a festival volunteer, succumbed to COVID-19 over the weekend

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A 67-year-old man who attended the Winter Party Festival was in the ICU fighting for his life, after he and his husband tested positive for COVID-19.

J. Heider said his husband, Thom Carr, was in critical condition on a ventilator.

"That's been the hardest thing of all is not to be there and to be able to be supportive and to have to know that I’m there and bringing him love and support," Heider said.

Heider, a dentist, said if he knew then what he knows now, he wouldn't have gone to the party.

"I think that we were operating under the guidance of our leadership at that time, the president, the governor, other people were saying go about your lives, live your lives. At that time they were saying it's no worse than the flu," Heider said.

A second man who attended the festival on Miami Beach last month has died from coronavirus, festival organizers said Tuesday.

In a Facebook post, the Winter Party Festival said Ron Rich, a festival volunteer, succumbed to COVID-19 over the weekend.

"Ron was a familiar face to the guests who attended the Task Force Gala, Winter Party Festival and our Fort Lauderdale house parties over the past five years as his big smile and warmth had him mostly serving on our hospitality team," the post read. "Ron also volunteered with the Outshine Film Festival and Lambda Legal. He will be missed. We extend our condolences to his family and friends."

The death comes less than a week after another man who attended the festival, 40-year-old Israel Carrera, died of COVID-19.

Carrera's boyfriend said Carrera came down with a horrible cough and couldn't breathe after attending the festival.

"It started with fever, and then very quickly he was having problems with breathing," Franco Conquista said.

The Winter Party Festival, an annual, weeklong LGBTQ event, drew thousands from across the country. After it ended March 10, several attendees tested positive for the coronavirus, according to festival organizers.

Event organizers noted that educational posters were placed throughout the venue while 10,000 hand sanitizers were handed out to partygoers.

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