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Polk County man recovers from COVID-19 after his nearly 3-month battle

Keith Johnson was hospitalized and on a ventilator
Posted at 8:31 PM, Jul 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-15 23:23:41-04

WINTER HAVEN, Fla. — A Polk County man has recovered from COVID-19 after he battled the virus for nearly three months.

Keith Johnson, 53, was admitted to Winter Haven Hospital. He spent 10 days on a ventilator.

"My time in the ICU, I was devastated. I was broken, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally," he said.

He says he tested positive for the virus in March after he attended a casual gathering with his wife. She also contracted the virus.

"We were exposed on the 14. We know exactly when and where and how. Four days later, I started presenting the symptoms. I fought it on my own for about a week and then ended up going to an urgent care center for a test," said Johnson.

Johnson said his wife fought the virus at home. He spent about 26 days in the hospital and credits the staff for saving his life.

"They had to work really, really hard. They came in every day. They would talk to me. They would feed me. They would spend time with me. They gave me the morale and emotional support. I can't tell you how incredible they were," he said.

Winter Haven Hospital shared cell phone video capturing the moment Johnson was released from the hospital in April. Staff applauded as another hospital employee pushed his wheelchair.

He did not see his wife when he was hospitalized.

"You don't see any family. You see nobody. You're in a room. You're all by yourself. When these people come in, they're completely gowned up," he said.

Johnson said it took him nearly three months to feel better.

"It took me well over 90 days to feel like a human being again where my breathing was reasonably normal. My physical level of activity was able to return to normal. I have some minor lung scarring," said Johnson.

Johnson said he has underlying health issues like most parents, but the virus needs to be taken seriously.

"A lot of people always say, 'well, hey, what about his underlying conditions.' I'll tell you exactly what those are, I'm 53 years old. I'm overweight, definitely need to lose weight and I do have high blood pressure."

Johnson said he has since tested negative for the virus and his wife is doing well, too.

"I feel incredibly fortunate to be where I'm at today compared to where I was back in April. It's the hardest thing I've ever done," he said.