Widow of Unvaccinated Cop on Mission to Convince Others to Get Vaccine

The widow of an unvaccinated Florida police officer who died of COVID complications is on a mission to convince others to get their shots.

Officer Michael Weiskopf, an 18-year veteran of the St. Petersburg Police Department, died aged 52 on August 27 after fighting the virus for about a month.

At his funeral, his widow Karen Weiskopf told attendees that she had spent months trying to convince him to get the COVID vaccine before he died. The Department of Health offered coronavirus vaccines in a tent outside the Coliseum where the funeral was held because she wanted to use her husband's death to encourage others to get vaccinated, the Tampa Bay Times reported.

"There was so much information floating around, he didn't have all the facts," she told WFTS Tampa Bay about why he refused to get the vaccine. It was a decision he regretted when he became ill, she said.

"There wasn't one day, one hour, one moment that he didn't suffer. This did not have to happen," she told the station.

Her husband, who was previously fit and healthy, only had a minor headache when he first showed symptoms of COVID. But a week later, he was in intensive care.

The early morning call informing her that her husband had died came as a shock, she said, because doctors had told her he was showing signs of improvement the previous day.

"He was supposed to be coming home," she said.

Now, Karen Weiskopf says she wants to warn those who aren't yet vaccinated and make sure no-one else suffers the way her husband did in his final days.

At least 659 police officers have died of COVID since the pandemic began, according to the Fraternal Order of Police, a national union representing over 350,000 officers. Florida has reported at least 63 deaths, the most of any state bar Texas.

Reluctance to Get Vaccinated

But despite the virus being the top cop killer both this year and last, significant numbers of officers are refusing to get vaccinated and police unions across the country have rebelled against vaccine mandates.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis recently said the state will fine county and city governments for requiring their employees to get vaccinated.

"We are going to stand for the men and women who are serving us. We are going to protect Florida jobs," the Republican governor said. "We are not going to let people be fired because of a vaccine mandate."

But Karen Weiskopf said she supports mandating vaccines for government employees.

"If you're out there dealing with the public why would we not? Why would we not? Go get a vaccine," she said. "If you need [someone] to go with you, I'll go with you."

Florida's overall death toll from COVID topped 50,000 last week, meaning almost 1 in 422 Floridians have died after contracting the virus.

Karen Weiskopf couldn't immediately be reached for further comment. The St. Petersburg Police Department has been contacted for comment.

Officer Michael Weiskopf
Officer Michael Weiskopf, an 18-year veteran of the St. Petersburg Police Department, died of complications from COVID in late August. St. Petersburg Police Department