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He was waiting for more data on the COVID vaccine, now his breathing may never be the same

“If you think that you have any type of weakness in your body, COVID is going to find it."

HAMMOND, La. — A week out of the hospital, Tim Schwartz can hardly stand or walk long distances without gasping for air.

“It was very scary,” Schwartz said. “It’s been very traumatic. It’s been life changing. Sometimes, I wonder if I will ever breath normally again.”

The 42-year-old from Hammond, started feeling sick July 4th weekend. A COVID test came back positive. He says it felt like a bad flu at the time.

“I remember telling my mom if this is COVID, it’s not a big deal. By that night, I could barely get out of bed,” Schwartz said.

It only got worse from there.

“When it hit me. It hit every joint in my body and it felt like I was being pulled apart like a horse had a rope on each end of my body and was pulling me apart,” Schwartz said.

It took about a week for Schwartz, who isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19, to end up in the emergency room with extreme fatigue, a high fever, low oxygen and double pneumonia.

“There were times that I was in the hospital I thought I was going to die,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz spent five days in the hospital and is now in a 20-day isolation period. While not an anti-vaxxer, he says he was just unsure about the COVID vaccine.

“I was just waiting on a time to get more data to say is this the best decision for me to get the vaccine,” he said.

Schwartz says that waiting period almost killed him and is strongly considering getting the vaccine at his first opportunity.

“I do have the antibodies and I’m going to try to get as much data as I can on how long I can go before I need to get the vaccine, but what I do know is I might not survive the second time around if I catch COVID,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz is just one of the unvaccinated people who medical leaders say make up 97 percent off all severe COVID cases in the state. That means hospitalizations and deaths.

“We’re in a surge right now. We’re in a really bad surge,” said Dr. Joseph Kanter, the top medical officer with the Louisiana Department of Health.

Dr. Kanter says waiting to get the vaccine will only add to the problem.

“If you want to ask yourself when it the best time to get vaccinated, really it was about five weeks ago. When’s the second-best time to get vaccinated, right now,” Kanter said.

For Schwartz, it took the real thought of dying in that hospital bed. He urges others who are unvaccinated to not wait that long.

“If you think that you have any type of weakness in your body, COVID is going to find it,” Schwartz said.