Coronavirus Florida: Jupiter Farms man was virus skeptic until it infected him – News – Palm Beach Daily News

Brian Lee Hitchens has taken to Facebook in an effort to persuade anyone with questions that COVID-19 is real and powerful.

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PALM BEACH GARDENS — Brian Lee Hitchens was a coronavirus skeptic until the illness led him to be hospitalized at Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center.

Now the Jupiter Farms resident wants people to know the virus is dangerous and real. He has taken to Facebook to share his experience.

He told The Palm Beach Post on Monday that he doesn’t understand how coronavirus deniers who in past weeks protested shelter-in-place measures still believe the virus — which has kept him hospitalized since April 19 — is a hoax.

“To these protestors I say, how did I go to the ER and test positive? How can I make that up?” said Hitchens who acknowledged that his Facebook posts have received some “unforgiving” comments.

“I didn’t test myself. This isn’t a made-up thing.”

Hitchens, a rideshare driver who works for Lyft and Uber, still is in the hospital, slowly recovering but feeling better after rounds of medications that have included plasma transfusion to fight off the virus.

His wife, whose name he declined to provide, remains in critical condition there as well. She is connected to a ventilator.

He admits that in the beginning, he thought the virus wasn’t something to worry about. He said he heard so many different things that it was unclear “what was real and what wasn’t.”

“I’m honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic, but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be,” Hitchens posted on Facebook on April 2.

He said he resolved to continue living his life “and because I’m a man of faith I prayed every day.”

About a week later, and days before they became sick, he told his wife that maybe they needed to start wearing masks when going out. Uber and Lyft began to require all workers to wipe their cars down several times a day, in addition to wearing masks.

But by the time Hitchens did so, it was already too late.

“I did the best I could. I’m sorry about my thoughts before about wearing a mask and I know I should have done it,” he said, “But for some people, it doesn’t matter. “

When he and his wife began having symptoms, Hitchens believed it was nothing more than either a cold or the flu, but it quickly became clear they were dealing with something more serious.

“I started to feel out of breath, like I ran a 10-mile marathon or something,” he said. “My energy was zapped. I was so tired and lethargic.” He said his wife had similar symptoms but struggled to keep food down.

On April 18, he posted on Facebook: “Been home sick for over a week. Both my wife and I home sick. I’ve got no energy and all I want to do is sleep.”

Hitchens said he has only been able to see his wife twice in the four weeks they’ve been hospitalized.

“I saw her when they transported me from the ICU to the third floor where the non-critical COVID patients are treated,” he said. “They let me stop a couple of minutes by her room. I couldn’t go in, but I was able to say hi to her.

“Even though she was unresponsive, the nurse said she could see her eyes moving, so I think she recognized my voice.”

Hitchens’ improved condition hasn’t been enough to get him discharged. A second negative tests, a key to when a patient can come home, came back Sunday. He said Monday he was unsure when he would leave the medical center.

Hitchens had praises for the doctors and nurses caring for him, his wife and other COVID-19 patients. He said the medical staff has told him his wife’s body is stronger but that her lungs still aren’t functioning properly and that it’s difficult for her to breathe on her own.

“When I first came to the hospital, so many things were going through my mind,” Hitchens said Monday.

“I know without a doubt that God forgives even if mankind doesn’t. I want to encourage people to comply, because this is a plague and we have to be careful.’”

adelgado@pbdailynews.com

@litadriana


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