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Florida Man Dies of COVID-19 After Attending Miami Beach LGBTQ Party

Thom Carr

Thom Carr was a real estate agent and classical pianist.

A third man who attended the annual Miami Beach Winter Party last month has died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Thom Carr, 67, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., was diabetic and admitted to the intensive care unit March 23 after becoming ill. His husband, J. Heider, also tested positive but later recovered. Heider shared the news of his partner's passing Wednesday in a Facebook post.

"It is with overwhelming sadness that I share that our journey together has come to an end," Heider said. "For now, the parties, the cruises, the costume planning and trips together have come to an end. My memories from 35 years together, however, will never end. Thank you for being part of our lives."

Carr was a real estate agent and classical pianist, reports the Sun-Sentinel, a Fort Lauderdale newspaper. He and Heider were renowned in local circles for their love of fantastic costumes.

Doctors initially gave Carr only a five percent chance of survival, but he fought on as long as he could not just to survive but also to help others. He donated his blood as part of experimental plasma treatment. And before he passed away, he encouraged others to do the same.

Carr is also survived by his sister, Suzi Carr, of Los Angeles. "I couldn't have asked for a better brother and best friend," she wrote of her brother on Facebook. "I will treasure our lifetime of memories."

Israel Carrera, 40, was the first known Winter Party attendee to have passed away from the novel coronavirus. He died on March 25. Ron Rich, a prominent figure in the local LGBTQ community, died the following week. Both men tested positive for COVID-19 after attending the event.

Like Carr, both Carrera and Rich reported feeling sick shortly after attending the Winter Party. While Carr and Rich were both over 65, though, Carrera was only 40.

"He couldn't breathe, so he wanted to go to the hospital, and then, he was at the hospital for four or five days," Carrera's partner, Franco Conquista, told WVSN at the time. "Then, they put him to sleep because he was really agitated, and then, he never woke up again."

The National LGBTQ Task Force remembered Rich as a "loyal volunteer" who 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" in a Facebook post.

Dozens of Winter Party attendees have reported testing positive for COVID-19, including a San Francisco nurse who is now breathing on a ventilator at an ICU in Massachusetts. Thousands went to the party, which is an annual fundraiser for the Task Force.

The event occurred just prior to President Trump's declaration of a national emergency and the rush of "stay-at-home" orders that have occurred to combat the spread of the virus. Los Angeles held its marathon the same weekend prior to a sudden turn to lockdown. The Florida governor did not issue a stay-at-home order until April 1.

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