Joe Diffie passes from coronavirus; visits Bay County before death

Florida Coronavirus News

BAY COUNTY, Fla. (WMBB) — 61-year-old Joe Diffie passed away on Sunday from the coronavirus and was in Bay County almost two weeks prior to his passing. 

Diffie attended an event on March 17th called ‘Men’s Night at John Pitts’ hosted by GAC Contractors Incorporated. Some local officials attended the event and came in contact with Diffie. 

“There were four to five people standing in an area talking with him and I just reached over and shook his hand and said ‘Hi nice to meet you’, just trying to be polite,” said Bay County Commissioner Bill Dozier. “I was probably around him a minute to a minute and a half that I know of.” 

Dozier said he took the proper precautions afterward. 

“They had those large bottles of hand sanitizer, so on my way out I just walked over and squirted about three squirts into my hands and rubbed my hands together, which is normal nowadays,” Dozier said. 

Dozier says he is feeling normal, but following CDC guidelines to stay safe. 

“Since I found out about it, I’m just staying away from everybody,” Dozier said.  

Since this event, Dozier has attended a Bay County emergency meeting that took place on March 20th. 

It was also learned later that Panama City Beach City Councilmen Paul Casto and Phil Chester also attended the event hosted by GAC.

Chester says he came in contact with Diffie for about two to three minutes. He says he is feeling healthy without any symptoms of COVID-19. 

Chester says he has been in self- quarantine since then and in contact with the Department of Health officials. While he doesn’t have any symptoms, Chester says he is choosing to be tested. He hopes that can happen in the coming days.

Casto, too, says he is feeling healthy, without virus symptoms. He says he did not come into direct contact with Diffie at all at the event and didn’t even know Diffie was in the area. 

Casto says he also has been in self-quarantine but doesn’t want to get tested so it can be used for someone who has the symptoms. During this time, Casto says he’s been carrying hand sanitizer with him everywhere he goes in hopes to keep himself healthy. 

Both men have been in contact with the Bay County Department of Health officials and will continue to follow the health guidelines set out. Both were in attendance during the City’s regular meeting on March 26. No residents were physically at the meeting as it was held virtually.

We have reached out to GAC Contractors Inc. for a number on just how many people were at this event, but have not received a response. 

According to a Facebook post, Diffie also made a stop at Lorrie Morgan’s Spicy Hot Chicken Coop with his family on March 19th. 

They recently made another post saying they are closing their doors for the time being and everyone who came in contact with Diffie that night are self quarantining.

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