“Bob Harris is struggling for his life right now,” KFGO host Joel Heitkamp said on his radio show Wednesday morning, Dec. 9. “Bob Harris would be in this building working with me right now if it weren’t for COVID."
Harris’ sister, Jeannie Smith, was on the radio with Heitkamp talking about her brother’s condition. Harris is intubated and in a medically-induced coma now on light sedation. Doctors are waiting to see how he is doing once he emerges from the coma.
Since he was admitted to Sanford Health on Thanksgiving, his heart stopped beating due to a lack of oxygen, Smith later told The Forum, correcting earlier reports that Harris had suffered a cardiac arrest.
She doesn't know how Harris contacted COVID-19, saying that he'd been "fairly careful." Still, the weekend before Thanksgiving he started showing symptoms. He was tested and received a positive result on Nov. 24, his 65th birthday.
Smith pleaded with people to wear a mask.
"It's so contagious. You can be asymptomatic and not know that you have it," she told The Forum. "You don't want this happening to your family."
“It’s not good. It really sucks,” Heitkamp told The Forum.
Word about the radio personality's condition started getting out late Tuesday, Dec. 8, when Lend A Hand Up, a subsidiary of Dakota Medical Foundation, called out on its Facebook page asking for prayers for Harris, “who is suffering right now.”
“He has passionately helped us build awareness of hundreds of fundraisers through the years. He has such a big heart. Let's give him a piece of ours right now,” the post stated.
Fargo-based events promoter Jade Presents shared that post Tuesday night, adding, “Let's all take a moment to send our healing vibes to a huge supporter of live & local music, our friend, Bob Harris. He has been fighting the good fight with COVID-19. With the love and support from his family and friends, we will see him through this challenging time. Love you, Bob. See you at the next live show.”
Harris, a presence on local radio for decades, has long supported the local arts and culture and other nonprofits in his shows, like "The Harris Happening," which was on weekday evenings and is now a blog. Friends and family were quick to rally for his recovery once word spread.
Emily Beck, executive director of the Fargo Theatre, posted on Harris' Facebook page: "Bob - you are a constant source of support for the Fargo Theatre and the entire FM arts community. We love you so much and are sending all of our love. Please feel better soon, my dear friend."
"You have been one of the biggest supporters of music over the years," wrote a local scene fixture, Pat Lenertz. "You have always made time for local artists. This community thanks you for all of your work and kindness. I wish you and your family nothing but the best Bob. Speedy recovery."
"He was never one to toot his own horn, so he'd be kind of embarrassed by all of this attention," Smith said. "I hope he can wake up and see how important he is in people's lives."