CHINO (CBSLA) — A guard at Chino Men’s Prison was the first coronavirus patient to be hospitalized in Riverside County, and months after being discharged from the hospital, he is still feeling the effects of the illness.
Carlos Garcia spent 12 days in the hospital and remains too weak to return back to work. He is urging people to be vigilant of symptoms even as states across the country are reopening.
The 45-year-old said as of now, he only has the strength for a brisk walk around the neighborhood.
“I was one of those individuals who was like, ‘oh if I get it, it will be like a common cold or flu. I’m healthy, young,'” Garcia said.
When he fell ill in March, doctors were still trying to find the best ways to treat patients. Garcia first got treated with anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which didn’t help. What worked for Garcia was the anti-viral drug remdesivir — which was used for Ebola. He was administered the drug as part of a clinical trial.
“It was a last-ditch effort type of thing before life support,” Garcia said.
Doctors say it’s common for coronavirus patients to have a long recovery.
“We’re seeing a lot of that. People who do recover, are taking longer to get better,” said Dr. Niraj Mahajan, a pulmonary critical care physician.
Thousands of patients have recovered in Riverside County but cases are still on the rise.
Riverside County health officials Monday reported 429 newly confirmed cases and one more fatality since Friday, bringing countywide totals to 9,206 cases and 356 deaths.
Dr. Mahajan said it is important that people continue to wash their hands, wear face coverings, avoid touching their eyes, nose and mouth, and practice physical distancing.
Garcia believes he got sick while working at Chino Men’s Prison, where 12 inmates have since died from coronavirus complications.