SAN ANTONIO – The world COVID-19 survivor Ron Wilkins will rejoin Tuesday after two months of being hospitalized and undergoing physical and occupational therapy concerns the famed jazz trombonist.
“I just wish people would understand how dangerous this disease is,” Wilkins said from his room at Warm Springs Rehabilitation Hospital in Kyle.
Wilkins is well aware that Texas is among other states seeing COVID-19 cases climb after reopening.
“This disease is not going away,” Wilkins said. “It’s not going to be a miracle thing where all of a sudden it’s just going to go bye-bye.”
Wilkins said he’s been shaking his head in disbelief that face masks are no longer mandatory despite pleas to Gov. Greg Abbott by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff.
Wilkins said he’s seen reports of those who say it’s their right not to wear face masks. He has this warning for those people.
“Take it from somebody who’s been through hell with this and he’s coming out the other side, you have to take care of yourself. If not just for you, then for the people around you,” he said.
Wilkins said those who are asymptomatic are unknowingly spreading the coronavirus, especially to those at highest risk with pre-existing conditions.
Wilkins said his immune system was compromised because of a kidney transplant he had a few years ago.
Although he now has the antibodies to fight COVID-19, Wilkins said it’s still unknown whether he’ll get it again.
“I have no wish to go through this, much less wish this on anyone else," Wilkins said.
He said there were times when his close friend, Becca Patterson, was told that doctors were unsure whether he’d survive the ordeal.
"The first time I was able to stand up about three weeks ago, I literally cried," Wilkins said.
Wilkins said he lived to tell his story in large part because of the excellent medical care he received at Northeast Baptist Hospital, PAM Specialty Hospital in New Braunfels and at Warm Springs.
He said the medical care combined with his fierce determination, positive attitude and faith made the difference.
The U.S. Air Force veteran said he'll be living in Austin as he continues outpatient therapy at the Audie Murphy VA Hospital in San Antonio.
Once he’s released Tuesday, Wilkins said he’ll continue to “mask up,” practice social distancing and stay indoors as much as possible.
Wilkins urges others to take those and other precautions as Metro Health warns a second wave of COVID-19 is already here.
“Be aware and vigilant,” he said.