Florida man regrets doubting COVID-19 as ‘hysteria’ after infection lands him in intensive care
A worried patient sits in a hospital bed (Shutterstock)

A Florida resident who at one time blew off the novel coronavirus as "hysteria" now says he regrets not taking it seriously.

In an interview with local news station WPTV, ride share driver Brian Hitchens said that he initially downplayed the threat of the virus when it first hit, and he avoided wearing a mask in public even though his job involved driving around multiple strangers every day.

"I thought it was maybe the government trying something, and it was kind of like they threw it out there to kinda distract us," he says. "I'd get up in the morning and pray and trust in God for his protection, and I’d just leave it at that. There were all these masks and gloves. I thought it looks like a hysteria."

His feelings about the virus changed, however, when both he and his wife contracted it and were treated in an intensive care unit. While Hitchens has started recovering, he says that his wife is still on a ventilator at the ICU.

In a Facebook post written this week, Hitchens admitted that he got COVID-19 wrong and encouraged everyone to listen to public health experts.

"This thing is nothing to be messed with please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts," he wrote. "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 but 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."