Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn confesses he was not a "great mask wearer" before he got COVID-19, probably in his own office from an infected deputy, and is warning others about the virus: "It's real. It will hurt you."
"Like most of us, I'm a pretty active guy, and man!” he said in an interview Monday. “The days really, really, really shortened."
Waybourn tested positive for the virus on Nov. 14 and was at home for two weeks.
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"I don't wish it on anybody,” he said. “I went through coughing and fever and headaches -- and wrestling all that -- and fatigue. You know, I'd get up and do something for five minutes, and you're exhausted."
He said he was taking vitamins and supplements and believes they boosted his strength and helped combat the symptoms.
His cough went away after about two days and he never felt like he couldn't breathe, he said.
But he said one side effect did stand out.
"The weird thing is I didn't lose taste and smell, everything just changed dramatically on how it tasted and how it smelled,” he said.
As for how he got it, he thinks it happened in his own office, which is located in a building across from the courthouse.
"One particular deputy in a specialized unit was outside my office,” Waybourn said. “I remember talking to him right at my door and we were smiling and laughing about something. And the following day he got diagnosed."
The sheriff said he started to show symptoms within a few days.
He added he wasn't wearing a mask at the time of the interaction and doesn't think the deputy was either.
"I was not a great mask wearer,” he said. “Now, when I was out in public, I wanted to make sure nobody felt uneasy. But in the office, you know, I felt secure in here."
The sheriff said he has a new view of the virus.
"The perspective is that man, those people that have COVID, I don't wish it on anybody,” he said. “I lost 20 pounds. It's not the best weight loss program. I think going forward, it's real, it will hurt you. Even though we have a 99% survival rate, there's still that one percent."
The sheriff said he’s back to feeling 99%.
“Right now I feel great,” he said.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.