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A Texas man who worked tirelessly to prepare coronavirus testing sites and secure personal protective equipment for his community has died just days after being diagnosed with both leukemia and COVID-19.
David Prasifka worked as the emergency management coordinator of Atascosa County, a small community just south of San Antonio, where he took the threat of the coronavirus very seriously.
He was diagnosed with leukemia last week, according to CNN, and went into the hospital for treatment, where he tested positive for COVID-19 and died on Saturday. He was 58.
"He constantly worked day and night to help the community through this pandemic," reads his obituary from Hurley Funeral Home. "Unfortunately before we could completely make it out, he was diagnosed with leukemia. He was receiving very aggressive treatment, but the treatment could not help him once COVID entered his body."
On his personal Facebook page, Prasifka constantly posted news of free COVID-19 testing centers in the area and encouraged people to wear masks, get tested, and practice social distancing.
"He worked evenings, he got up early in the morning," Atascosa Judge Robert Hurley told CNN. "He communicated with state officials when PPE was extraordinarily short. He scrounged all over the state for it ... Sometimes that involved him driving a couple hundred miles to pick up PPE. It didn't matter how far he had to go, what he had to do to get it."
Prasifka's push for testing helped save lives, according to city officials. "There's no question," Judge Hurley told CNN, pointing out how many testing centers the county had because of Prasifka's efforts. "We probably had more in our county than any other that are our size, at least in our area of Texas, and he ran them personally."
Texas has seen a huge uptick in coronavirus cases in recent weeks, forcing bars to close and limit indoor dining after the state became one of the nation's hotspots for the virus.
But Atascosa County has a much lower number of cases — 152 — than most. When adjusted for population, Atascosa has 297 cases per 100,000 people, while nearby Bexar County, where San Antonio is located, has 835 per 100,000 people.
Prasifka "passed away from the very disease he has been valiantly fighting against," Atascosa County officials wrote in a Facebook post announcing his death.
Prasifka served at the Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department for over 25 years, rising to become chief. He also spent 31 years working at San Miguel Electric Cooperative. Fire trucks and other local agencies gathered to escort his body's return to his hometown on Monday afternoon.
Jourdanton Mayor Robert “Doc” Williams told Pleasanton Express that Prasifka was "a gentleman who never sought the limelight."
Commissioner Mark Gillespie, a longtime friend of Prasifka's, posted on Facebook that he feared his friend had worked himself too hard.
"You cared so much about the well being of everyone else in the county and you chose to put yourself second," wrote Gillespie. "It's worked you in the ground and your body just couldn’t hold up to it any longer."
During the pandemic, Prasifka also posted on Facebook about wishing he could hug his grandkids and how much he missed his loved ones during quarantine.
A father to four sons and grandfather to five, Prasfika spent 26 years married to his wife, Donna.