A patient battling COVID-19 in Florida admits that he used to believe the pandemic was being blown out of proportion. But, after he and his wife were hospitalized with serious infections, he’s urging people to take coronavirus seriously.
“I don’t want to see anybody go through what I went through,” Brian Lee Hitchens, a ride-share driver in Jupiter, Florida, told WPTV-TV in West Palm Beach in an interview from his hospital bed. “This wasn’t some scare tactic that anybody was using. It wasn’t some made-up thing. This is a real virus that you’ve got to take serious.”
Just last month, Hitchens said he was skeptical about coronavirus and didn’t think the crisis was real.
“I thought it was maybe the government trying something, and it was kind of like they threw it out there to kinda distract us,” he told the TV station.
“I’d get up in the morning and pray and trust in God for his protection, and I’d just leave it at that. There were all these masks and gloves. I thought it looks like a hysteria,” he added.
However, in a lengthy post to the platform Tuesday, Hitchens dramatically shifted his outlook and urged others to do the same.
“Many people still think that the Coronavirus is a fake crisis which at one time I did too,” he wrote. “And not that I thought it wasn’t a real virus going around but at one time I felt that it was blown out of proportion and it wasn’t that serious.”
Just over a month before making that post, Hitchens wrote, he had started to feel unwell, and his wife fell ill soon after. He said that following a stint in home isolation, they began to feel so fatigued and sick that they checked into the Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center. They tested positive for the virus and were admitted to the intensive care unit.
Hitchens said Tuesday that he’s feeling much better, although still has “some pneumonia in my lungs” and is still COVID-19 positive. He’s holding on to hope for his wife, who is still on a ventilator and has been for several weeks. The two aren’t able to see one another and don’t know when they might be discharged.
“Please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts,” he implored people in his Facebook post. “Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn’t and perhaps I’m paying the price for it now.”
He concluded: “If you have to go out please use wisdom and don’t be foolish like I was so the same thing won’t happen to you like it happened to me and my wife.”
His interview with WPTV can be viewed above.
A HuffPost Guide To Coronavirus
- Stay up to date with our live blog as we cover the COVID-19 pandemic
- 7 essential pieces of relationship advice for couples in quarantine
- What you need to know about face masks right now
- How to tell if you need to start doing online therapy
- Lost your job due to coronavirus? Here’s what you need to know.
- Parenting during the coronavirus crisis?
- The HuffPost guide to working from home
- What coronavirus questions are on your mind right now? We want to help you find answers.
- Everyone deserves accurate information about COVID-19. Support journalism without a paywall — and keep it free for everyone — by becoming a HuffPost member today.