Nearly two years into the Coronavirus pandemic, people are still learning far too late that not only is the virus very real, but it’s also not the ‘flu’ some conspiracy theorists and other skeptics have said it is. Aside from the continuing rise in cases as winter takes hold of the country, the new Omicron variant is a threat even more worrisome than the Delta variant.
While plenty of anti-vaxxers remain staunchly opposed to any of the vaccines, those who once thought that way but caught COVID19 are now telling far different stories. The Oregonian shares just one of them, a skeptic who spent a little over three and a half months in a hospital bed after he caught the virus that made him so ill, he forgot his own name.
Howard Breidenbach thought COVID was all a big conspiracy like he read on Facebook, but the independent trucker knew something was wrong in mid-July when he began getting sick. At first, both he and his wife, Tonja, thought it might be pneumonia, as she also got sicker along with him. But Howard’s condition took a much more drastic turn. After spending a few days at CHI Mercy Medical Center, he was transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU), but there was only so much hospital staff could do for him. He needed specialized help, and he needed it fast.
In the West, case rates in coastal states — California, Oregon and Washington — have stayed relatively low, while the Four Corners states — Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah — have seen high rates of transmission in recent weeks. https://t.co/t33UygVBYg
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 24, 2021
The Oregonian reports that Howard’s condition deteriorated so fast, one doctor called every hospital in the Pacific Northwest trying to find an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation machine (ECMO) to help serve as an artificial lung for the 47-year-old, who kept getting weaker. On average, the survival rate of patients on ECMO is estimated at 30%. Since no machines were available in the state of Oregon, Howard, in a medically induced coma, was transported to Roseburg Regional Airport and flown to the University of Washington Medical Center’s Montlake facility in Seattle. For nearly 100 days, Howard received a medical treatment that temporarily draws blood from the body, provides artificial oxygenation of the blood, and returns it to the cardiovascular system.
Oregon is putting monetary incentives into a new effort to boost COVID-19 vaccinations in the state. Pharmacies can qualify for payments from the Oregon Health Authority for each shot they give if they meet certain standards for "vaccine equity." https://t.co/LSYFUdGKYC
— OPB (@OPB) November 27, 2021
Today, both Howard and Tonja are encouraging those who are on the fence to vaccinate or not vaccinate to get the shot. “I thought it was a scam until I got (COVID-19),” Howard said. “It’s serious, and it’s real. COVID is no joke.”
To the thousands of Oregon parents and kids stepping up to protect yourselves and your communities from COVID-19: Thank you! https://t.co/AKVjxjI2KZ
— Governor Kate Brown (@OregonGovBrown) November 23, 2021
Read Howard’s full story at The Oregonian.