After becoming severely ill with COVID-19
last month and fearing he "wasn't going to make it out of the hospital
alive," a Florida
Republican official urged people
to get vaccinated and wear masks
James Ring, president
of the Republican Party
of Lakeland, Florida, admitted that he had grown complacent about remembering to wear a mask and hadn't gotten vaccinated yet.
In a Facebook
post, the former Lakeland Police
sergeant and U.S. Army
Reserve chief warrant
officer, who had been deployed to both Iraq
, described himself as a healthy 39-year-old with no pre-existing conditions, and said he had “always haphazardly assumed it wouldn’t be that bad if I caught the virus.”
Ring went to Orlando
with his wife
and three daughters on the weekend of June 19-20 for his daughters' volleyball
tournament, and he began to feel achy by Thursday of that week, according to the Lakeland Ledger, and he tested negative for COVID-19 the next day.
He received a positive test result on Tuesday, June 29, after his symptoms continued to worsen over the weekend, he said.
He was admitted to an area hospital's emergency room on his tenth night of fighting the virus, he wrote on Facebook, and was treated with an experimental anti-viral antibody cocktail before being sent home, only to return the next evening.
“I was shaking uncontrollably, and my blood oxygen levels had dropped dangerously low to 78; I couldn’t catch my breath, and I was convinced I was dying,” he wrote.
“The ER physician immediately transferred me to the COVID unit, where they determined that both of my lungs were full of COVID pneumonia, and that the COVID virus had thickened my blood and made me susceptible to blood clots in my heart, lungs, and legs, which could ultimately prove fatal. They gave me steroids
for my lungs, a breathing treatment, shots in my stomach to thin my blood, and antibiotics.
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As his health continued to deteriorate, Ring gave a harrowing account of his time in the COVID-19 unit.
“The nights were filled with the sounds of people coughing uncontrollably and crying; everyone was alone and in desperate need of assistance,” he wrote.
“I cried and cried as I came to terms with the fact that I probably wouldn't make it out of the hospital alive; every day brought more bad news
, and my symptoms worsened.”
He was eventually released
, and he said Tuesday that, while he wasn't out of the woods yet, he was at home recovering, and he urged people to think about the consequences of their actions.
“I'm not anti-vax
, but I've never taken the time to get the vaccine
. I'm not anti-mask, but I'm not very good at remembering to wear one. Needless to say, I contracted the virus and unknowingly passed it on to some of the people I love the most,” he said, declining to name the people he inadvertently infected.
Ring told the story to remind people that “this pandemic
is far from over,” he said.
“Please take it seriously and remember to wear a mask; even if you think it's silly, it's better than sitting alone in a COVID unit wishing you had.”
As the spread of the delta variant
has resulted in an increase in COVID-19 cases in Florida over the past few weeks, experts have urged people to get immunized to protect themselves and others. However, the vaccination
rate has slowed, prompting health officials to remind people that the vast majority of new cases are now among unvaccinated people.