Florida Man Who Believed COVID-19 was a Hoax Loses Wife to Virus: 'Don't Be Foolish Like I Was'
A Florida man who once thought coronavirus was a hoax is now mourning his wife after she succumbed to the disease.
Brian Lee Hitchens posted a lengthy and heartfelt message to social media after contracting coronavirus earlier this year to convince others to take the pandemic seriously. In his post, Hitchens described how he initially thought coronavirus was a "fake crisis" before he fell ill and tested positive for the disease.
Shortly after his symptoms appeared, Hitchens' wife, Erin, also became sick and the two were admitted to the ICU of a local hospital in May.
"I started feeling better within a few days but my wife got worse to the point where they sedated her and put her on the ventilator," Hitchens — who did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment — wrote in a post to Facebook on May 12. "I was never put [on a] ventilator and started feeling better feeling stronger, never had terrible aches and pains just weak and exhausted."
Hitchens said doctors attempted to "wean" Erin off the ventilator, but her oxygen levels dropped each time and they placed her back on the breathing machine. With so many setbacks, Hitchens said he accepted his wife might not survive the ordeal.
"My wife has been sick before in the past quite a few times, and she always fought through to get better, but now after 3 weeks I have come to accept that my wife may pass away," he wrote on Facebook.
"The peace I have about it is that I know without a shadow of a doubt that she will be going home to be with the Lord, but I also do believe in miracles and I'm holding on to the chance that she may get healed. If not, I am thankful for her I know we've been married for 8 years."
According to BBC, Erin lost her battle with the deadly disease earlier this month.
"This is a real virus that affects people differently. I can't change the past. I can only live in today and make better choices for the future," Hitchens told the outlet.
"She's no longer suffering, but in peace," he added. "I go through times missing her, but I know she's in a better place."
Erin had two underlying conditions, asthma and a sleeping disorder, BBC reported. People with underlying medical conditions — including heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease — are at higher risk of developing life-threatening symptoms from coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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According to a New York Times database, coronavirus has sickened more than 5.8 million Americans and has killed 178,779 others.
To help with medical bills, Hitchens has set up a GoFundMe page that has raised just over $360 as of Wednesday afternoon.
"Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn't and perhaps I'm paying the price for it now," he wrote in his Facebook post from May. "I know that if it was me that gave it to my wife, I know that she forgives me and I know that God forgives me. Whether man forgives me or not that's out of my control, but as long as I have the assurance that God forgives me and my wife forgives me, I am good."
"Don't be foolish like I was," Hitchens added, "so the same thing won't happen to you like it happened to me and my wife."
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