x
Breaking News
More () »

41-year-old COVID-19 patient relearning how to breathe, wishes he had been vaccinated

UF Health North nurses said this is the worst wave of the pandemic they've seen so far.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — UF Health Jacksonville reports Wednesday 134 patients are in the hospital with COVID19. Among those patients, 40 are in the ICU and 12 are on ventilators. 

First Coast News got a tour of the wing at UF Health North caring for the sickest patients. A patient in his early 40s is in the hospital on oxygen and believes the community needs to come together to get the surging pandemic under control. 

James "Scott" Owen is only 41 years old and thinks he may have gotten the virus at work or during a July 4th party.

“I’m in the roofing business, so I may have picked it up from a customer," Owen said.

Owen coughed during much of the interview in the hospital bed as he battles COVID-19, and now he wishes he got vaccinated against the virus.

“I’m having to remind myself how to relearn to breathe," Owen said. “Now that I have had the full cycle of symptoms, I would definitely have opted to get [the vaccine]."

“Here at our north campus, we’re almost full of COVID patients and running out of space frankly, " said Chad Neilsen, UF Health director of infection prevention.

Neilsen said the big concern with caring for coronavirus patients is adequate staffing.

“As staff becomes more burned out during another wave of COVID, that’s what really going to put our patients at risk," Neilsen said.

UF Health North Nursing Manager Amy Doyle said this wave of COVID-19 is the worst she's ever seen. 

“The patients are younger," Doyle said. "We’re getting more patients in faster every day than the last two surges.”

UF Health nurse Carson Griego used to work overtime but finds himself drained at the end of his shift.

“Now just working the normal three, 12-hour shifts a week is very taxing emotionally, physically, and everything," Griego said. "I just go home and go to sleep."

Owen continues on his road to recovery and wants people to know the virus can affect anyone. 

“It can happen to any of us," Owen said. "I’m usually the big, strong guy and everything. Well, I thought I was. This virus doesn’t care who you are. It will jump on you quickly.”

UF Health Jacksonville reports all COVID-19 deaths are in unvaccinated patients. The healthcare system set its one-day record for patients testing positive for COVID-19 this week as the Delta variant continues its rapid spread.