CHICAGO — After more than a month in the hospital battling coronavirus, Chicago’s beloved “Tamale Guy” Claudio Velez was released from Rush Hospital on Thursday and is heading home.
In a video posted to his restaurant’s social media pages, Velez is seen waving as the doctors and nurses who treated him starting in late August applaud.
“We have missed our guy Claudio so much and we are so so happy to announce his release from the hospital TODAY,” The Tamale Guy restaurant posted on social media. “We want to thank everyone for the kind words and supportive messages through this time. A big thank you to the doctors, nurses and staff at Rush hospital as well. Thank you everyone!!”
Chicagoans were devastated when Velez was placed on a ventilator in critical condition after contracting COVID-19 over the summer. Locals raised more than $56,000 for Velez and his family, who faced mounting medical bills.
Velez got into the tamale business after moving to Chicago almost 30 years ago. He is originally from the Acapulco region of Mexico.
For almost two decades, Velez had walked the streets and sold tamales out of his trademark red cooler, often selling to hungry bar patrons on the North Side. When bars shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic, Velez lost his income.
Thanks to donations from Chicagoans, Velez was able to use the money toward creating his first restaurant, Tamale Guy Chicago, which he opened last month at 2018 W. Chicago Ave. The restaurant closed briefly after Velez fell ill and reopened after staffers tested negative for coronavirus.
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