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Two more from JoCo magic club test positive for COVID-19

Two more people who attended a March 5 magic club’s meeting also attended by Dennis Wilson, who was Johnson County’s first coronavirus death, have tested positive for COVID-19, the head of the group said Wednesday night.

David Sandy, president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring 129, whose monthly meeting the three attended, said the man and his wife are self-quarantined at their home.

“They couldn’t go to the hospital because they were only taking people in the hospitals that needed ventilators or were having breathing problems,” Sandy told The Star late Wednesday. “And they weren’t having any breathing issues.”

Sandy said the man is a magician and his wife has been his assistant for many years. He said he talked to the man Tuesday night and was told that neither he nor his wife had been able to keep anything down for more than a week.

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“Of course everyone’s concerned, because we’re a very tight-knit close group,” he said. “We’ve known each other for many, many years. And she’s fighting cancer right now, going through chemotherapy treatment.

“It is pretty heart-wrenching. We’re like a family.”

Sandy told The Star late Wednesday that he had not been contacted by any health departments.

“We did send out an email blast letting people know what had happened and I checked the sign-in sheets from everybody who was in attendance to make sure they were in the loop as to what was going on,” he said. “But it’s hard to tell people they may have been exposed to go get tested when they can’t get tested unless they’re sick.”

Dennis Wilson, 74, of Lenexa, a retired school superintendent, died Saturday morning just five days after tests confirmed he had coronavirus. His is the first death to be reported in Johnson County. For the past 25 years, Wilson had been a hobby magician, performing on stage and for corporate events, private functions, festivals, fairs and school fundraisers.

Like the couple who is sick, he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians’ Ring 129, the organization’s Kansas City-area chapter.

Wilson and the couple had attended the chapter’s March 5 monthly meeting at the Hampton Inn near Interstate 35 and 75th Street in Merriam. A photo taken during the meeting shows the three sitting next to each other.

Sandy said about 30 people attended the gathering. He said no others have reported having any symptoms.

Sandy told chapter members about the couple’s illness in a Facebook post Tuesday night.

“It is with great concern that I tell you that two of our great friends and long-standing Ring members are very sick and have been positively confirmed to have the CoVid-19 virus,” he said, adding that he’d known them both for most of his life.

“They both befriended me when I was just a kid. They both are very, very special people to me... as well as all members of our Ring.”

Sandy said the man gave him permission to share the news because they “would like all of the prayers for their recovery as they can get.”

He said the woman “has a weakened immune system because of the chemotherapy treatments she is undergoing for her battle with cancer.”

“Both of them are a vital long-standing part of our family... and we want them to overcome this horrible affliction.”

Sandy said there’s no way to know how or where the three contracted the virus.

“We have no idea,” he said. “For all we know, because we meet at a hotel, it could have been residual on a surface at the hotel. Or someone could have picked it up at a gas pump.”

Sandy told members, however, to be careful when making assumptions.

“Please understand that this virus can be transferred in countless ways,” Sandy said, “touching a doorknob or other hard surface, casual contact in a store or anywhere really, a gas pump handle, a credit card machine, the list just goes on and on forever. Yes, our Ring has suffered an unspeakable loss with the passing of Dennis... and now we’re all praying for speedy and full recoveries for” the other couple, he said. “In my opinion, we need to focus on the present situation and staying healthy ourselves instead of trying to ‘backtrack’ through assumption and implication…

“Our Ring has been very transparent with the recent developments and has notified everyone involved as best we can through this Facebook page and an email blast. People know when and where they’ve been, and if they’ve attended any of our Ring functions lately, they are already self-aware of what they should look for if they have concerns.”