WATCH: Ex-GOP lawmaker who blew off COVID rules admits he got it wrong after catching the disease
Former Minnesota State Rep. Nick Zerwas (Screen cap).

Former Republican Minnesota State Rep. Nick Zerwas on Friday admitted that he blew off COVID-19 restrictions earlier this year -- and then paid a big price when he came down with the disease.

In an interview with CNN's John Berman, Zerwas said that he initially took warnings about the virus seriously but then let his guard down in the summer because he believed that the worst had passed.

He came to regret this decision, however, when the virus hit him particularly hard.

"I was born with a heart defect," he said. "I've had ten open heart surgeries."

He then described the terror he felt when the virus first started affecting him.

"In a matter of about 24 hours, it got to the point where I couldn't breathe laying flat or laying down," he said. "I had just had a terrible night's sleep. My wife earlier in the summer bought us a pulse oximeter, and I came downstairs and I had to lean on the counter to be able to stand and I put that meter on, and it was registering in the mid 80s."

He told Berman that he now believed it was time for his fellow conservatives to take the disease seriously.

"I think we have to come together and understand that the virus doesn't care if you are a red jersey or a blue jersey," he said. "It doesn't discriminate. I vehemently disagree with [Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz] on a host of tax and spending policies, health care policies, but the reality is that this virus is in Minnesota."

Watch the video below.