MORRISTOWN, Tenn. — On July 19, Robert Livingston woke up with a fever and back pain. He didn't have any shortness of breath but still drove to the hospital for a COVID-19 test.
His results came back positive. Shortly after, his wife and their eight-month-old daughter tested positive too.
"My wife is four months pregnant so it was really scary at first. She started having really bad headaches and throwing up," Livingston said. "A couple of days later, our eight-month-old started getting horribly congested."
But after about a week, they all started to recover — or so he thought.
"Four days after the medicine, it just hit me out of nowhere: body sweats, cough and chest pain," Livingston said. "When I finally couldn't take it no more, I finally went back to the hospital ... I'm 27 years old, very healthy and I exercise a lot."
For 3 days, he fought COVID-19 alone in his hospital room. He said his blood pressure skyrocketed and his oxygen levels were low.
"I was having coughing fits; I could not stop coughing," he said. "I had to arch my chest out and sit straight up just to be able to breathe."
He was put on breathing treatments and oxygen, as well as a variety of medications to help him get better.
On Saturday, he was finally able to return home to continue recovering from the virus. He said this experience has changed his outlook on COVID-19.
"I was on the bandwagon of, 'Hey, I got a strong immune system,'" Livingston said. "My political feelings are it's kind of scary when the government starts mandating masks because ... where are the mandates going to stop?"
But after spending three days in the hospital, talking with his nurses and doctors, he said his outlook has changed.
"People have their opinions, but after talking to people who are doctors and do this for a living, wearing a mask can potentially save your life," he said. "A mask has no preference whether you're Republican or Democrat. It's a health thing."