A 29-year-old man is in a Washington, D.C., intensive care unit recovering from coronavirus and he has a warning to young people and anyone who thinks they don’t need to abide by social distancing guidelines: “This can happen to you.”
Francis Wilson of Woodbridge, Virginia, was washing his hands often and taking other precautions as the potentially deadly virus spread. He didn’t think he was at much risk. But he got so sick that he was put unconscious for 10 days.
“I had no idea that the symptoms could get that bad for somebody young and healthy,” he said via video call Tuesday from his hospital bed at George Washington University Hospital.
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
The illness began with a stomach ache and chills. Wilson couldn’t keep food down. He went to an urgent care center and the staff sent him home without testing him for the virus. His condition declined fast and he began to have trouble breathing.
“I live in an apartment and my bathroom is just down the hall. It took me from laying prone in bed an hour to get down to the bathroom and back,” he said.
“I realized, OK, I need to head into the hospital. So I called an ambulance,” he said.
He was initially put unconscious and put on a respirator at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington. When his condition failed to improve, he was transferred to George Washington University Hospital in D.C. and treated with a more powerful respirator. It made the difference, and he was taken off the ventilator a few days ago.
“They put me under as a precaution and 10 days later I wake up,” he said.
After 12 days in two hospitals, he’s expected to be moved out of the ICU soon.
Wilson believes he caught the virus from a friend who didn’t know he had it. Now he wants to warn others to stay home.
“You can’t get together with people and be within six feet, because this can happen to you,” he said.
He seemed stunned by what had happened.
“I’m really lucky to have made it out,” he said.