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Local COVID-19 Survivors Share Their Stories, Concerns as Cases Rise

A 31-year-old survivor and a 67-year-old survivor discussed their recovery and what their concerns are now since virus cases are increasing

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Local COVID-19 survivors are sharing their stories and concerns as the number of cases increase.

Some of the survivors are still battling long-term health effects months after being diagnosed, they said. A 31-year-old survivor and a 67-year-old survivor shared their stories with NBC 7.

Both battled the virus very differently and their recovery stories may surprise you. Their common message, though: don’t let your guard down.

“I represent all of the young people who thought it wasn’t going to happen to them, but here I am,” said Yvette Paz.

Rich Pickett said, “and of course, our elderly, I’m elderly, 67 now, are even more susceptible.”

Paz, an army veteran and former San Diegan, was diagnosed with COVID-19 in March.

She said she was hospitalized for six days and developed severe pneumonia. Pickett, a professional pilot from Tierra Santa, was hospitalized for nearly three times as long as Paz.

“When I went in April 1, I didn’t think I was going to come out alive,” he said.

When COVID-19 hit the U.S., event and wedding planners had to pivot fast. Instead of packed corporate halls and crowded wedding dance floors, they were suddenly producing virtual ceremonies and intimate outdoor receptions. Even once the pandemic is over, some of these trends may last. NBCLX contributor Alex Wohleber talked to event planners about how their industry has changed.

However, he made an incredible recovery.

“I’ve been very fortunate, even though it was incredibly intense," Pickett said. "My lungs recovered after about four months totally. I feel really good. I go mountain bike, do my flying, spend time with family. I’m fortunate because there are a number of other people who have those long-term COVID symptoms”

Paz is one of those people.

“Extreme fatigue that comes and goes, which is unbelievable because I’m overall usually a healthy person," she explained. "I do have lingering asthma that I’ve been dealing with. I also have some lung scarring and damage that’s done there and I had also been put on medication because I was having panic attacks when I’d come out in public.”

The two are now watching cases climb and are warning people to be vigilant.

The explosion in coronavirus cases is triggering stricter regulations. NBC 7's Lauren Coronado spoke with a doctor who explains the perfect storm causing the surge in case numbers.

"People just have to endure through this. They really need to follow the guidelines for the social distance, the washing and the masks," Pickett said.

"I am really, really trying to tell young people, ‘hey guys, we’re not invincible.' This is something that’s still not understood, and we just need to be cautious with what we’re doing,” Paz said.

Pickett added that he worries about overwhelming the local health care system, which would result in postponing elective surgeries and other medical treatments.

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