Longtime Keys politician, wife and daughter are ‘fighting for their lives’ with COVID-19

Gwen Filosa
·2 min read

A Key West politician, his wife and their youngest daughter are in a Miami hospital sick with COVID-19.

Monroe County Commissioner Craig Cates, his wife, Cheryl Cates, and daughter Crystal are in the intensive care unit at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami, according to a Facebook post by another daughter.

“My dad, Craig, is at Jackson Memorial and he and my mother, Cheryl, are in adjacent rooms in the ICU,” their oldest daughter Tammy Cates Berard posted Monday night. “I know they can feel each other’s presence and this will help them fight!”

She said her mother and sister are “critically ill with Crystal being in the most danger.”

“They are fighting for their lives, all three of them,” Cates Berard told the Miami Herald on Tuesday.

Craig Cates
Craig Cates

“My mother and Crystal are both still critical,” she said. “My youngest sister is in the worst state, she’s the most sick. She’s only 35. She has no underlying health conditions. My father is slowly improving.”

The three were initially hospitalized at Lower Keys Medical Center, but then were airlifted to Miami, Cates Berard said.

“Crystal was airlifted first, then my mother and then Craig,” she said.

Cates Berard said she appreciated the outpouring of support for her family.

“Thank you for your continued prayers,” Cates Berard posted. “They have a long hard journey ahead of them but the family is very hopeful that all three of them will return home to us.”

News of Craig Cates’ diagnosis surfaced Nov. 17, when Cates issued a statement to the Key West Citizen newspaper saying he and his wife were in the hospital.

“On behalf of the entire county, our prayers and best wishes are with Commissioner Cates and his family right now, as they are with any family suffering from COVID,” said County Mayor Michelle Coldiron during Monday’s county emergency management call.

On Monday, Monroe County confirmed 26 additional cases and no new deaths. The county has a known total of 3,140 cases and 27 deaths. Percent positivity for new cases increased from 8.36% to 9.26%

Cates, 67, was Key West mayor from 2009 to 2018. He was appointed to the Monroe County District 1 commission last year by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis after Danny Kolhage left office early.

Cates, a Republican, won a four-year term in the Nov. 3 election, beating Annalise Mannix, a Democrat, by taking nearly 59 percent of the vote.