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Coronavirus Update: 94-Year-Old World War II Veteran Makes Good On His Vow, Defeats COVID-19

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Day after day, CBS2 shares heartbreaking numbers -- the lives lost due to COVID-19.

But this time, the story is about a survivor.

Reporter Jenna DeAngelis is sharing one man's message of hope.


At Huntington Hospital, hope is in the lyrics of "Here Comes the Sun."

The song was hard to hear over the cheers of medical staff wheeling Seymour Perlmutter on his way out of the Long Island hospital on Saturday.

"When he first got sick he said, 'I will make it through this,' and, you know, I thought he wouldn't, but he did. He proved us all wrong," said Gail Katz of Dix Hills.

Perlmutter's daughter said he was admitted on April 4.

"He had bad symptoms, high, high fevers," Katz said. "The whole family really thought we were going to lose him."

MORECoronavirus Update: Tri-State Area Hospitals Celebrate COVID-19 Survivors

But the World War II veteran put up quite the fight, living to see another birthday, turning 94 at the hospital and celebrating with his granddaughter, a physician assistant, by his side.

"He walked 50 steps with a walker, and that they wanted to send him home the next day and we opted to send him to rehab, where he is now," Katz said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Perlmutter is among the 336 coronavirus survivors who have left Huntington Hospital. That's about half its total cases, according to executive director Nick Fitterman.

"There's no doubt, the case fatality rate for COVID-19 is high. This is not just a bad flu. This is worse and the public needs to know that so they take social distancing seriously. Even though it looks like we're in the plateau now that they don't let their guards down," Fitterman said. "However, we are discharging for more than expired due to the virus. And just discharged home today and 86-year-old woman who was put on the ventilator twice.

"It's finding that right tension between: take this seriously, it is dangerous, don't let up on the social distancing, but we can get people better if they do get sick," he added.

Fitterman said the number of patients going home keeps climbing and is reflected on an inspiring message board created by staff.

"The staff are really stretched. They've been working so hard, seeing so much pain and suffering for 36 straight days now," Fitterman said. "Celebrating every one of these victories is so crucial to maintaining the spirits of the staff."

MORECoronavirus Update: Man's Recovery After Being On Ventilator Gives Hospital Staff Hope In Fight Against COVID-19

And the spirit of the staff, Perlmutter's daughter said, is what kept her father going. They're hoping his story will inspire others to do the same.

"If he can make it through it, I think everyone has a shot, a real good shot," Katz said.

His daughter said he has nine grandchildren and four great grandchildren, all of whom are happy to use video chat to connect with him until it's safe for everyone to be together again.

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