Family of man who died after COVID-19 battle calls on public to wear masks, social distance

Local News

A family is grieving the loss of a husband, dad, and grandfather and making a plea to the public about COVID-19 safety.

In late September we introduced you to John Bjorkman while he was in the ICU at a hospital in Marshall, Minnesota.

The De Smet man tested positive for the virus on September 14th.

John’s wife says he died early Tuesday morning in the Avera McKennan ICU due to COVID-19 complications.

“His heart rate became erratic last night and his blood pressure was erratic and they just said there was nothing else they could do for him medically,” John Bjorkman’s Daughter Kassi Mlcak said.

John’s wife, Chris, and his children were with him in his final moments.

“It’s terrible to watch someone die from COVID. It’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through to watch someone not be able to breathe,” John Bjorkman’s Wife Chris Bjorkman said.

Both women say they think John would be alive today if more people took COVID-19 more seriously.

“I don’t know how to say it better, but just if you were to stay home and stay safe, wear a mask and stay socially distanced, we’re going to save more lives that way,” Mlcak said.

“I think people really need to step up, especially in South Dakota,” Bjorkman said.

John was just 66 years old.

John’s wife says she’ll remember him for his love of life.

Chris says he loved his grandchildren, education, fishing, and more.

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