80°F
weather icon Clear

Las Vegas radio host’s case fits emerging COVID-19 pattern

Updated April 8, 2020 - 8:44 am

In just a matter of days, Omari Mitchell had lost control of his own body because of the novel coronavirus. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t breathe.

“It didn’t make no sense,” his 72-year-old father, Dee, told the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Tuesday. “It was completely out of the blue.”

At 39, Omari Mitchell, a radio host for KLUC-FM, 98.5, was healthy and strong — a far cry from the high-risk population of individuals 65 and older or those with underlying conditions. So when he developed a mild cough in late March, he wasn’t too worried.

But by March 29, he felt feverish. His chest was tight. He could barely form a full sentence without gasping for air.

His story, one of drastic decline, illustrates an emerging pattern of COVID-19 that some doctors and health officials are seeing.

Omari Mitchell told his 15-year-old daughter, Aniya, he’d be back soon and drove himself to Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center.

He did not come home that night.

‘Fighting and fighting’

Dr. Michelle Gong, chief of critical care medicine at a hospital in the Bronx, New York, said in a Q&A with the Journal of the American Medical Association, that the decline from COVID-19 “can be very abrupt,” often happening around the five-day mark.

“It’s respiratory arrest in its true form: a sudden type of hypoxia and worsening that requires emergent intubation,” Gong said. Hypoxia is a condition in which the body, or a region of the body, is deprived of adequate oxygen supply.

Such was the case for Omari Mitchell, who was quickly admitted into the intensive care unit when he arrived at the hospital and soon after was hooked up to a ventilator and placed in a medically induced coma.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also has warned that some patients initially will experience only mild symptoms, then “rapidly deteriorate one week after illness onset.”

“It was traumatic for Aniya,” said Greg Ritchie, Omari Mitchell’s best friend. “Her dad didn’t come back, and now she’s quarantined.”

Omari Mitchell was in the ICU — alone — for a week. Doctors at one point put him on dialysis.

“It was looking rough for a while,” Ritchie said. “He was just fighting and fighting.”

‘My heart’

Meanwhile, more than 500 miles away in Vacaville, California, the man’s father couldn’t keep still. He paced and paced. Cried. He couldn’t push away the urge to climb into his car and drive to his son.

“I couldn’t even let myself outside,” Dee Mitchell said, crying. “Next thing I know I’m on my way to Vegas.”

Finally, five days after his son’s hospitalization, Dee Mitchell got some good news: His son’s condition was improving.

Doctors began to reverse the coma, and the ventilator was replaced with a respirator mask.

The next day, Saturday, Omari Mitchell was strong enough to call his father and his daughter. Groggy from his medications, he could hardly speak after a spending a week intubated.

Still, it was the best phone call of Dee Mitchell’s life.

“That’s my heart right there,” he said of his son.

Recovery

By Sunday, Omari Mitchell was shifting to recovery mode and was removed from the ICU. And as of Tuesday, the radio host was working closely with speech and physical therapists at the hospital.

His father isn’t sure when or how he was exposed to the virus. Omari Mitchell had been working from his Las Vegas home “for a while” by the time of his diagnosis.

A spokeswoman for KLUC declined to comment. But Ritchie said the Las Vegas radio station “has been absolutely amazing and supportive.”

When Omari Mitchell will get to go home is unclear. According to the CDC, the median length of hospitalization among survivors is 10 to 13 days.

“We still don’t know what’s going to happen,” Dee Mitchell said. “But, oh, am I happy he’s alive.”

Until Omari Mitchell is medically cleared to go home, Aniya, who lives with her father, will remain quarantined at her mother’s house. Ritchie has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for the man’s medical bills and for Aniya’s care.

Contact Rio Lacanlale at rlacanlale@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0381. Follow @riolacanlale on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Entertainment Videos
Las Vegas performers adapt to pandemic restrictions - Video
The coronavirus pandemic has forced creative people in Las Vegas, a city that thrives on live performance, to adapt to new or changed ways to entertain. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas woman brings Blue Angel to life - Video
When Las Vegas shut down during the coronavirus pandemic, Victoria Hogan created the Blue Angel costume and performance, emulating the statue locals know and love in order to connect with others in a time when connection isn’t as possible. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‘Hamilton’ postponed as Smith Center remains dark indefinitely - VIDEO
The hit musical 'Hamilton' was supposed to run from September through October at The Smith Center’s Reynolds Hall has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Strip with Kats
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife Gilligan Stillwater GIbbons and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides a bicycle on the Las Vegas Strip with Kats - Video
Las Vegas resident and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons rides down the Strip with his wife, Gilligan Stillwater Gibbons, and Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes on Wednesday, May 20, 2020. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Ex-WWE star Shad Gaspard found dead on beach - Video
Shad Gaspard, 39, the former WWE wrestler, was found dead Wednesday morning on the shoreline of Venice Beach in California. Gaspard went missing over the weekend. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Buffets won’t reopen soon, but they may return eventually - VIDEO
In a Tuesday earnings call, Frank Fertitta III, CEO of Station Casinos parent company Red Rock Resorts, said buffets won’t be among the amenities included in the early stages of the resorts’ reopenings. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
'Hamilton' to debut on Disney+ in July - Video
The film version of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s popular musical was originally set for theatrical release in October. The musical’s director, Tommy Kail, shot three live performances featuring the original Broadway cast. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Little Richard dead at 87 - VIDEO
Little Richard, the pioneer and rock 'n' roll originator, died on Saturday, May 9. His son, Danny Penniman, confirmed the news but the cause of death is unknown. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Jerry Stiller, actor and comedian, dies at 92 - VIDEO
Jerry Stiller's son, actor and director Ben Stiller, announced his father's death via Twitter. Jerry Stiller became widely known with a recurring role on "Seinfeld" as Frank Costanza, George's hot-headed father. He also starred on "King of Queens." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Wolfgang Puck's Players Locker opens in Downtown Summerlin along with others - VIDEO
Under the governor's orders a few restaurants were able to open their dining rooms in Downtown Summerlin Saturday, May 9. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nicolas Cage to portray Joe Exotic in ‘Tiger King’ TV adaption - VIDEO
Nicolas Cage is headed to television to take on the role of Joe Exotic, the iconic character from the Netflix docuseries "Tiger King." (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Quarantined! 'The Ghost Adventures' miniseries by Zak Bagans - VIDEO
The four-part miniseries “Ghost Adventures: Quarantine” by Zak Bagans will debut in June on the Travel Channel. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
10 facts about Cinco de Mayo - VIDEO
The holiday celebrates the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Mexico began the holiday in 1862, but does not recognize it nationally anymore. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Kristin Cavallari has already filed for divorce - VIDEO
Kristin Cavallari, the "Very Cavallari" star, announced she and her husband, former NFL quarterback Jay Cutler, have separated after seven years of marriage and 10 years together. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brad Pitt portrays Dr. Anthony Fauci on ‘Saturday Night Live’ - VIDEO
"Saturday Night Live’ aired their second socially distanced episode of the COVID-19 pandemic on April 25. The episode’s cold open featured actor Brad Pitt portraying Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Brian Dennehy, 'Tommy Boy' and 'First Blood' star, dies at 81 - VIDEO
Actor Brian Dennehy died Wednesday in New Haven, Connecticut. Dennehy's acting career spanned more than four decades, working in television, film and theater. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Bishop Gorman 'Guys and Dolls' virtual performance
Bishop Gorman's virtual opening of "Guys and Dolls." (Bishop Gorman High School)
John Prine, country-folk singer, dies at 73 - VIDEO
John Prine died due to complications caused by COVID-19 at Vanderbilt University Hospital in Nashville, Tennessee on April 7. The singer-songwriter is counted as one the favorite artists by the likes of Bob Dylan and Kris Kristofferson. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Caesars furloughing about 90% of US workers
The furloughs come amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has prompted all U.S. commercial casinos to temporarily shut their doors.
Bill Withers, soul legend and 'Lean on Me' singer, dead at 81 - VIDEO
Bill Withers' family said he died of heart complications on Monday in Los Angeles. Withers was a three-time Grammy winner. His other major hits include “Ain’t No Sunshine" and “Lovely Day.” (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Vegas KatsWalk: From the Mandalay Bay to Excalibur - VIDEO
Review-Journal columnist John Katsilometes walks and talks along the Las Vegas Strip, from Mandalay Bay to Excalibur. (John Katsilometes and Kevin Cannon / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Make Ivan Grant's Quarantini - VIDEO
Ivan Grant, a flair bartender at Long Bar at The D Las Vegas, makes his Quarantini. (Ivan Grant)
Fountains of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger dies from coronavirus - VIDEO
According to Variety, 52-year-old frontman and songwriter Adam Schlesinger has died, following a short battle with the respiratory illness, coronavirus. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
KATS WALK: A walking tour on south Las Vegas Strip – VIDEO
RJ columnist John Katsiometes takes a walking tour of the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. (John Katsiometes and Kevin Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Tiger King character has Las Vegas connection - VIDEO
Entertainment reporter John Katsilometes talks about the popular "Tiger King" and Jeff Lowe, a central figure in the Netflix documentary phenomenon who wanted to do business with the last Las Vegas Strip entertainer to use wild tigers in his act. (Renee Summerour/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Coranavirus victim Howard Berman playing the harmonica in April 2014 - VIDEO
Howard Berman, 66, playing the harmonica at a jam session in April 2014. Berman, who was active in the Las Vegas music community, died on March 24, 2020, from COVID-19. (Diana Andriola)
Boarded-up businesses in the Arts District add some color - VIDEO
Businesses in the Arts District have commissioned local artists to paint murals on the boards covering their doors and windows. When the boards are removed, they will be auctioned off to raise money for those affected by the coronavirus shutdowns. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Sold-out Electric Daisy Carnival still scheduled for May - VIDEO
In a post on his social media platforms, festival founder Pasquale Rotella confirmed that EDC remains scheduled for May 15-17 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway despite coronavirus concerns that have sideline scads of other live music events. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
City of Las Vegas responds to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup
Alcohol is now allowed in curbside meal pickups in Las Vegas. The city of Las Vegas has responded to calls to allow restaurants offering curbside pickup service to include alcohol in those meals. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
 
Half of Americans would get a COVID-19 vaccine, poll shows

Only about half of Americans say they would get a COVID-19 vaccine if the scientists working furiously to create one succeed, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.