MT. AIRY, Md. (WJZ) — A retired DC firefighter, jokester and loving grandfather, Gary Holmberg was 77 years old when he died following an outbreak of COVID-19 at Pleasant View Nursing Home.

“It kills me to think he died like this, this shouldn’t have been his way out. He didn’t want to die,” his daughter Tracy Shavell said.

His daughter said he served 22 years as a firefighter and was temporarily moved into the Carroll County nursing home in late February to recover from surgery.

CORONAVIRUS RESOURCES: 

But on March 27, the same officials announced the COVID-19 outbreak, Gary was moved to Carroll County Hospital for a respiratory infection.

By March 28, he was left gasping for air.

Tracy said she and her brother rushed over at 2 a.m. to say their goodbyes.

“My brother and I donned all the protective stuff I know we were taking a chance but we couldn’t not let him go without him knowing that we were there for him as best as we could,” she said.

Gary died the following morning, and Tracy says the hospital confirmed he tested positive for the coronavirus.

“He was a good dad,” she said.

Pleasant View was the first confirmed nursing home with a COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

Caroll County Health Department brought in the Maryland National Guard and additional resources to help stop the spread.

But Sunday, Gov. Larry Hogan said a total of 10 residents at the facility who tested positive have died, and more than 100 staff members and residents are showing symptoms. That number jumped to 14 deaths by Monday evening.

Tracy said she believes the staff wasn’t equipped to handle the outbreak.

“There’s four people to a room separated by curtains, I knew if they got it in there it would not be contained very well,” she said.

Now, she’s trying to reach out to other families, hoping together, they can help each other get through this.

She has since created a Facebook page with her brother, hoping to reach out to those families.

WJZ reached out to the health department who said they are still providing additional resources to the facility.

For the latest information on coronavirus go to the Maryland Health Department’s website or call 211. You can find all of WJZ’s coverage on coronavirus in Maryland here.

Kelsey Kushner

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