Corey Ripe, his fiancé Jena Parris and her daughter Jillian still count their blessings nine months after he was hospitalized for COVID-19, intubated and given a 50% chance at survival.
He said contracting the virus again was the last thing on his mind, until last Sunday when he started to feel sick.
"I just started feeling like someone was sitting on my chest, and then my neck and shoulders had swollen up,” said Ripe.
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These symptoms were drastically different from the neurological issues he’d suffered last time around.
Still, with low oxygen levels, Parris insisted on a trip to the emergency room where they found a very different situation than they had in the spring.
"My heart goes out to those nurses and doctors. Like I was telling them earlier, it's almost like being in World War II triage because you have sick people sitting out in the waiting room but not enough room for other people,” said Ripe.
"That thought of, ‘Oh my gosh. What if he needs a ventilator again? What if he needs the ICU and there's truly not a bed?’ It's very frightening,” said Parris.
Thankfully, none proved necessary. But this time, they say Corey waited in the emergency room for about nine hours.
Three days later, they got confirmation that, in addition to pneumonia, Ripe had once again contracted the virus that had already nearly claimed his life.
"People are asking us if it's a different strand. We'll never know. And why was he the lucky one who got it twice? We have no idea. Or where it came from again?" said Parris.
They also don’t know why Jena and Jillian weren’t infected a second time, but they hope their unknowns are enough to encourage everyone to remain cautious.
*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.