Man who raised concerns about his state's hospital capacity dies one month after contracting COVID

John Bjorkman, 66, a beloved father, grandfather and lifelong educator in De Smet, South Dakota, was profiled by CNN this Tuesday in the wake of his death last week from coronavirus.


Bjorkman battled the virus for a month before he passed away. In September, he spoke to a local news outlet, saying there were several days where he was "fighting for every breath" and that he didn't know if he'd see the next day.

When he was airlifted to the hospital, Bjorkman overheard physicians say their Sioux Falls hospital didn't have the capacity to house more coronavirus patients --  a detail that wasn't made public at the time. He was later returned to South Dakota and placed in a local swing bed program, where he died soon thereafter.

"He loved people," his wife Chris said. "He loved people a lot. He was the type of person if a kid needed a pair of glasses, he would take them and go buy them the glasses. He was constantly buying tennis shoes for kids in elementary -- if they needed that, he made sure they had it."

As CNN points out, coronavirus cases in South Dakota have ballooned in the last month and a half. Earlier this week, the state recorded over 1,000 new cases in one day, which was the highest number of daily cases recorded in the state so far.

Read the full profile on John Bjorkman over at CNN.