Topeka mayor to get pacemaker after COVID-19 damages heart

Michelle De La Isla was hospitalized for 12 days earlier this year after contracting the coronavirus


State News

August 11, 2021 - 4:10 PM

Topeka mayor Michelle De La Isla, left, was in Iola in March 2020 when campaigning for Congress. Photo by Vickie Moss / Iola Register

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla will have a pacemaker implanted on Monday because of damage to her heart from COVID-19, she said Wednesday.

De La Isla was hospitalized for 12 days earlier this year because of COVID-19 health issues. She also had minor surgery after the virus attacked her gastrointestinal system.

She said at the time COVID-19 also had affected her heart. 

The mayor, age 45, was exposed to COVID-19 through a family member who was an essential worker. De La Isla said she had followed best practices by wearing her mask, maintaining social distancing and working from home.

“I saw the worst of COVID,” she said earlier this year. “Please be mindful, please listen to what we are asking you to do. … This is not a joke.”

State health department data showed that Kansas averaged 37 new COVID-19 hospitalizations a day for the seven days ending Wednesday, the highest figure in six months. The state averaged 1,083 new cases a day for that period, the highest figure since the end of January.

Federal data showed that 45.9% of Kansas’ population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

In February, De La Isla credited health care workers at Stormont Vail hospital with saving her life, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

U.S. map of COVID-19 transmission rate

The mayor said she was exposed to COVID-19 through a family member who was an essential worker, despite having worn her mask, maintaining social distancing and working from home.

De La Isla chose not to seek a second term as mayor. She will join the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation as a managing director focused on strategy and grantmaking in the Midwest.