‘I cried and cried’: Unvaccinated Republican assumed COVID-19 ‘wouldn’t be that bad’ – then came perilously close to dying
Health workers move a COVID-19 patient at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas on July 2, 2020 as the virus threatens to overwhelm the city's vast medical system Mark Felix AFP/File

A whopping 99.2 percent of the people who died of COVID-19 in May were people who weren't vaccinated, Forbes reported, citing data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It showed that only 150 out of 18,000 COVID deaths in May were "breakthrough" infections of fully vaccinated people.

One of those people who survived was Republican Party of Lakeland chairman James Ring, who says now that he "certainly was dying," when he contracted the virus at a volleyball tournament where his daughters played in Orlando, reported The Ledger.

"I haven't shared this with many people, but I just spent the last few days confined to a small room in the COVID unit at Lakeland Regional Health with COVID pneumonia in both my lungs," Ring said in a Facebook post.

Ring was a Lakeland Police sergeant and has guarded military officials on trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. As a U.S. Army Reserves Chief Warrant Officer, he was in top shape.

"He describes himself as a healthy and fit 39-year-old, with no history of high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes, and no pre-existing conditions. While in Washington, he was required to wear a mask for work and was fastidious about it. He came home to Lakeland earlier this year after his final tour — but before vaccines were available for healthy people in their 30s," the report explained.

Because of his good health, he "always haphazardly assumed it wouldn't be that bad if I caught the virus," Ring explained in a Facebook post.

Still, the virus took him down. He described it as if he couldn't catch his breath. He actually drove himself to the hospital, but he was afraid that he was going to die on the way there.

"My temperature spiked, I couldn't breathe and my blood oxygen levels crashed. I went to the ER on the 10th night and was given an IV with an experimental antiviral antibody medicine for high-risk patients (I technically didn't meet the definition for high-risk patient, but the doctor could see my body wasn't handling the virus well and he showed me some grace)," the Facebook post continued. "I was then sent home from the ER, only to return later the following evening when my temperature once again spiked, I was shaking uncontrollably, and my blood oxygen levels dropped dangerously low to 78. I couldn't catch my breath and was certain I was dying."

He explained that he believes in everyone's personal choice, but no one is free of consequences. He said that he's not an anti-vaxxer but he took his time getting the vaccine and was never good about wearing a mask.

While in the hospital, he said no one would touch him or be comforting in any way. Everyone wore biohazard suits and he was surrounded by people in the same boat as he was.

"The nights were filled with the sounds of people coughing uncontrollably and crying. Everyone was alone and desperate for help," Ring recalled. "I remember looking out my window with the view of Lakeland Hills Boulevard, watching (Lakeland Police) cars pass and remembering how I used to be one of them. I cried and cried as I began to accept that I probably wasn't going to make it out of the hospital alive. Everyday had just been more bad news and my symptoms kept getting worse."

During the holiday weekend, while most of the country was celebrating the country coming back from the pandemic, Ring was in the hospital crying and praying. A patient care assistant named Charles found him, grabbed his hand and prayed with him. He said that it was the first physical touch he'd had in a long time and he felt a sense of peace come over him.

"After he finished praying, he grabbed me by my shoulders and said, 'Look at me, James — we're brothers in Christ - aren't we?' I said yes and he said, 'You're going to be okay - you have to believe that,'" Ring recalled. "He literally gave me hope and that's when things started turning around for me. I was released a couple nights later and now I'm finally home recovering. I'm still not out of the woods, but I'm home and that's progress. Praise God!"

Read his full story at The Ledger.