Austin police officer home after 4 month battle with COVID-19

An Austin Police officer left a Round Rock rehabilitation hospital Friday, having spent nearly four months in hospitals battling COVID-19

Corporal Elijah Neely’s family, doctors, and fellow officers cheered as he left Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Round Rock Friday afternoon. 

"I never lost faith, we knew this moment was coming." his wife, Temple Police Corporal Shawana Neely told FOX 7. 

Cpl. Elijah Neely laughed, telling the crowd, "Wing Stop, here we come!" 

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Cpl. Shawana Neely told reporters she is thrilled to hear her husband joke. "When he was in the coma I would say ‘I want all of that corniness, all of that silliness. Every bit of him back just the way he was when he left me." 

Cpl. Elijah Neely was admitted to a Baylor Scott & White emergency room in February. He and Cpl. Shawana Neely both fell ill during the severe winter storms

Cpl. Elijah Neely spent more than 50 days in a medically induced coma. Cpl. Shawana Neely said hospital staff told the family to say their "goodbyes" several times. 

"Their purpose was for me to say goodbye to him. But that was not my purpose. That was not my plan. I could not give up on him and so I went to say, ‘I love you, hang in there, fight, as long as you fight I’ll fight for you." she said. 

The community has rallied around the Neely family. A GoFundMe account set up for Cpl. Elijah Neely set a $20,000 goal. That amount has been surpassed by almost $15,000. 

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"I don’t know how to thank all of those people for everything that they’ve done," said Cpl. Shawana Neely tearing up. 

Austin Police Chaplin Creola Shaw Burns started a nightly prayer chain for Cpl. Elijah Neely. "Just asking God for a miracle and he gave it to us," she said. 

As Cpl. Elijah Neely exited the rehabilitation facility Friday Burns sang in prayer and kissed his head. "Thank you, lord. Thank you for Elijah’s life. We will continue to give you all the thanks and all the praise." she said. 

Cpl. Shawana Neely said she expects "a full recovery," adding "I’m not gonna accept anything less. If I can believe that he could get past where he was when he started, I can believe that he’ll be able to go back to work to full duty."