TORRANCE, Calif. - FOX 11 takes a first-hand look at the coronavirus pandemic from the people who are living it.
"I thought I was going to die," says Janis Blount who is 61 and has COVID-19.
Blount occupied a bed at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center in Torrance since November 22nd. For 5 days she was on a ventilator. She can’t remember those days, but says when she got so sick, “I thought I wasn’t going to see my kids no more. I didn’t think I was going to see anybody anymore.”
Critical Care Dr. Alex Hakim believes without a ventilator she might have died. Hakim adds, “Especially with this disease where oxygen can drop very precipitously and that usually causes the heart to stop and the person to die."
In the ICU he’s trying to photograph and document what you might call the war zone.
43-year-old Miguel Becerra is another patient who learned first-hand about the scourge that is COVID-19. He just got out of St. Joseph Hospital of Orange where he was battling the virus. His wife and daughter got it too, and they are doing fine.
As for Becerra, he’s now recovering at home. He still has a cough and struggles with his breathing. Becerra says his doctors told him to be careful because he still could get a stroke. He got COVID-19 the day before Thanksgiving and remembers all of the other symptoms, especially the fever and headache he describes as "bruising."
He has no idea how he contracted the virus. He says he always wore a mask and practiced social distancing. Becerra says he had no underlying conditions and he still got it.
Meanwhile, over at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center, Blount says, “I wore a mask every day. Every single day. I thought I was coming into this building to die. I was drained. I felt like I had a chest cold. At one time I could barely walk. I had to use a walker to walk.”
Blount's message to the world? “Go get tested. It only takes 5 minutes. Keep your dog-gone mask on. Stop acting like you’re big and bad and you can’t get sick because I got sick with a mask.”
As for Becerra, his COVID-19 dominoed into pneumonia. Now recovering at home, he says he still has some shortness of breath and the cough won’t go away.
Becerra says, “It’s not a hoax. It’s scary. It’s real life.”