79-year-old Mississippian survives COVID-19 twice


RIDGELAND, Miss. (WJTV) – The CDC Reports 79 percent of people who die from COVID-19 are 65-years-old or older. For 79-year-old, Ferr Smith, he was able to beat the virus not once…but twice.

“I feel fine now. But you have those hacking coughs.. You just cant get rid of that.” said Smith.

You might recognize Smith. He was a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives for 22 years. He retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease a few years ago.

In January this year, Smith had a stroke.

“As a result, he was paralyzed on the left side all the way down.” said his daughter, Rochelle Williams.

After the stroke, Smith needed therapy.

“We allowed him to go to the Woodlands Rehabilitation and Healthcare Center in Clinton, so he could get speech and physical therapy.”

In April, after months of rehab, Smith says he was diagnosed with COVID-19 the first time.

“Evidently it was mild, because I did not know I had it.” said Smith.

Smith said he was quarantined for 14 days. After he tested negative for the virus twice, the facility held a celebration for him.

“They had me roll out of the building and had all kinds of celebrations…I was COVID free.” said Smith.

In May, Smith moved to Chateau Ridgeland, a senior home in Ridgeland. In August, Smith was not feeling well again. The facility tested Smith and he was positive for COVID-19 the second time. Smith said the second time was much worse.

“I did not have enough strength to breathe.” said Smith.

William’s said they had to take him to the ICU.

“He stayed there for half a day until they got his oxygen level stable.” said Williams.

Williams said her dad got pneumonia and had to stay in the hospital for a month. Eventually, Smith beat the virus.

“I am so grateful he is still with us today. He is a true fighter.” said Williams.

Smith and Williams said both facilities practiced wearing masks when Smith contracted COVID-19. So how did he get the virus if safety measures were put in place?

“Masks are definitely beneficial, but they are not 100% protective.” said Doctor Timothy Quinn, a local doctor.

Doctor Quinn said in order to prevent the virus you have to not only wear a mask, but social distance as well. In nursing facilities, social distancing can be hard, especially for seniors who are physically disabled.

“In the event you are moving the senior around you have very close contact, which puts them at higher risk.” said Doctor Quinn.

Smith is doing well despite having coughs as a result of COVID-19. He said despite getting the virus, he is happy to be living in Chateau Ridgeland.

“They are doing a good job,” said Smith, “When you are dealing with people you cannot always have a perfect situation but I am pleased and happy here.”


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