Comedian/Goodwill spokesman Michael Flannery called from his Good Samaritan Hospital bed to say "thanks" to his fans for all the cards and prayers. Mostly the prayers.
"I didn't know I knew this many people, or that this many people knew me," says Flannery, 63, who's recovering from COVID-19.
Most know him from 17 years on television. He hosted WXIX-TV's Fox 19 Kids Club 1990-95, and was a WCPO-TV anchor, "9 On Your Kids Side" reporter and host of the Know It Alls weekly trivia show 1995-2007.
Cards, balloons and flowers arrived at the hospital after his Facebook live video while bedridden in Good Sam's COVID ward, announcing he had the coronavirus. He did it on Saturday, Feb. 20, about the same time TV/radio personality Pat Barry died from COVID in another Cincinnati hospital.
Flannery got COVID while caring for his daughter, Grace, and wife, Stacy, who had the virus last month.
"I'd go into their rooms, and take them food, and forget to put on a mask. I was a bit ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)," he says. "You have to be diligent!"
In the hospital video, he implored people to "please wear a mask, wash your hands and keep your distance. This isn't fun. You don't want this. It's hard to breathe. It hurts to breathe. You have panic attacks, and then you really can't breathe. Please wear a mask. Wearing a mask isn't a political thing."
Flannery's health deteriorated quickly. He was admitted Friday, Feb. 19. By Monday, he was put on a ventilator, and knocked out with strong sedatives. He was on the ventilator until Saturday, Feb. 27.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done. This (COVID) is terrible. It really, really is," he says. He's facing a long, hard comeback. For six days, his muscles atrophied when he was essentially comatose in bed with a feeding tube.
"I have to learn how to walk. I'll have to do that in a rehab center," he says.
Last year Flannery revived Know It Alls on Facebook live from his Prius. People already are asking when he's going to resume the show.
"I tell them that until I can talk for 30 minutes in a row, I can't do it," Flannery says.
It's going to be a while. But Know It Alls is a great motivation for Flannery to commit fully to his occupational and physical therapies, says his wife, Stacy.
Every day, she says, "Michael is sounding more like himself. He has started giving the nurses grief, and has doctors and nurses all laughing. You gotta find that audience wherever you can, I guess."
Stacy, who keeps people informed via a Caringbridge page, says Michael will be out of COVID isolation March 11. "We are counting the days to be able to hug him," she says.
She also wants to thank all the people praying for her husband, "both for physical healing, and the resources he needs to get there," she says.
"He got a stack of cards yesterday, and he was really happy to see them. The support has been fantastic. Tell people we say 'thanks,' " she says.
"And wear your dang masks!"
Cards may be sent to Michael Flannery in care of Ohio Goodwill Industries, 10600 Springfield Pike, Cincinnati, 45215.