It 'Went Downhill Extremely Fast': Nurse Dies 12 Hours After Testing Positive for COVID

During a shift at work, a co-worker told Jeff Sales that he didn't "look great," so he got tested for COVID-19. Twelve hours after the positive diagnosis, he died at the hospital where he worked.

Jeff worked as a nurse at a Florida hospital throughout the pandemic and on Friday, another nurse working the same shift expressed concern about how he looked, according to a GoFundMe. Decades earlier, he had open-heart surgery while serving in Korea and hours after he tested positive for COVID-19, he went into heart failure, leaving behind a wife and four children.

"We were all talking to him that morning, and it just all went downhill extremely fast," Jeff's son, Austin, told KUTV, noting that his dad tested positive at six in the morning and died at six that night.

Chanda Sales, Jeff's wife, told Newsweek that she was surprised to learn he had COVID-19 because when he left the house he was "perfectly fine." While fatigue can be a symptom of COVID-19, Chanda said she didn't notice anything out of the ordinary because he was "always tired" from working so much.

The Sales' moved to Florida in 2020 and the 47-year-old worked at Blake Medical Center throughout the pandemic. Described as a nurse who was always willing to pick up the extra slack, Jeff would work overnights and extra shifts because of the nursing shortage and uptick in patients, according to the GoFundMe.

jeff sales nurse covid death
Jeff Sales worked as a nurse throughout the pandemic and on Friday, he tested positive and died 12 hours later. GoFundMe

"I remember one night, it was a crazy busy night shift, and we had a patient who needed to have surgery. She was terrified. She was tearful. It was so busy, and I know he had a million other things he needed to do, but I walked by and see him holding her hand and sitting at her bedside. I thought, that is exactly the kind of nurse I want to be," a former co-worker Ginger Welsh told KUTV.

The stress of the pandemic has taken its toll on health care workers and many have opted to leave the profession or experienced struggles with their mental health. The pandemic exacerbated shortages in the nursing profession, but Austin told KUTV that his dad was always smiling and optimistic even during the pandemic.

Christensen posted on GoFundMe that the sudden loss of Jeff has been extremely difficult on his wife of 25 years and their whole family. Along with mounting medical bills and expenses for a funeral, Jeff was the sole provider for the family, as his wife, Chanda, was a stay-at-home mother to their kids.

So far, the GoFundMe fundraiser has raised more than $22,000 of its goal of $25,000.

Jeff was vaccinated against COVID-19 when he got sick, Chanda told Newsweek, and he was generally a healthy person aside from his heart.

"We lived, we did so much together. It's definitely a reminder for others that COVID remains a threat," Chanda said.

Update 1/25/2022 1:44 p.m. ET: This article has been updated with comment from Chanda Sales.