Unvaccinated COVID-19 patient urges others to get vaccinated

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Covid numbers are once again surging in Jacksonville-area hospitals.

Infection preventionist Chad Nielsen says the cause is twofold: unvaccinated patients and the delta variant.

>>More on COVID-19 vaccine

“We are experiencing a surge here on the First Coast.”

In the last two weeks, dozens of COVID cases flooded the University of Florida Medical.

Action News Jax spoke to James Owen, a 41-year-old veteran, from outside of his room today.

He told Action News he and his wife held a party on the Fourth of July, and now they are both infected with COVID, although he is the only one in the hospital.

He says what he thought was a hangover turned out to be COVID, and he deteriorated quickly at home.

“Last week the ambulance had to come to the house … my lungs had completely locked up,” he recalled.

Owen is just one of many cases, though.

“Our hospital has almost tripled our number of COVID-hospitalized patients just in the last two weeks,” said Neilsen.

Covid has officially taken over two-thirds of available beds at UF Medical. The numbers have surpassed their peaks set in January, Nielsen explained.

“So our peak number of COVID-hospitalized patients occurred in January of 2020, the winter surge. We had 125 cases on any given day… we surpassed that several days ago.”

Many of the current patients were unvaccinated, including patients like Owen, who just didn’t expect to get so sick.

“After seeing the way it has beaten me down like this to next to nothing … I’m definitely for the vaccination now.”

Owen says everyone should get the vaccine to avoid his level of infection.

“If the vaccination can help it at any point, I say go for it — get vaccinated,” he said. “I’m doing much better. Trying to breathe right now but … I have to remind myself to breathe because the lungs are still a long way from healing.”

His wife is still home alone.

SIMILAR STORY: Unvaccinated Jacksonville dad hospitalized for COVID-19, warns others to take virus seriously

“It’s been rough, I miss my wife, she’s at home sick with it,” he says.

Owen reminds everyone that no one is truly immune. “I guess it attacks whoever (it) wants to at this point.”