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Coronavirus patients describe recovering and being able to breathe again: "It hits you like a hammer"

Recovering coronavirus patients speak out
Recovering coronavirus patients share stories of survival 03:30

People who have gotten the coronavirus have described debilitating symptoms like not being able to catch their breath. But many have also recovered and shared what it felt like to breathe normally again. 

Clay Bentley is now quarantined in his bedroom after spending 12 days in a Georgia hospital. During his fight against coronavirus, he described not being able to move or catch his breath. At one point, doctors told him there wasn't much more they could do.

"They say, you know, we put these antibiotics through your system, and they said, 'You're in worse shape today than you were when you came into the hospital,'" he told CBS News correspondent David Begnaud. "It's like 10 times stronger than the flu. When it hits, it hits you like a hammer."

Just as doctors were considering putting him on a ventilator, there were signs of improvement. He said faith was key to his recovery.

"I couldn't breathe at all, and then all of a sudden, I felt the Lord. I mean, his presence was there, and I felt him blow air in my lungs," he said. 

Aviva Williamson, who was diagnosed with the virus four days ago, she said she had tightness in her chest and felt like she couldn't catch her breath. The 36-year-old mother of four from Shreveport, Louisiana, said she's still dealing with dizziness and fatigue. 

"I try to keep a mindset that I'm just going to get through it and nothing else bad is going to happen," she said. 

Frank Eller, an 87-year-old retired Marine, has also been released from the hospital. He was in critical condition when he was evacuated from a cruise ship and airlifted to a hospital in Puerto Rico two weeks ago.

He arrived with pneumonia and five underlying health conditions, including a leaky heart valve and emphysema in one lung.

Asked when he started to feel relief, he said, "Once they got me in this isolation room and started getting the antibiotics in me, and the oxygen, almost immediately."

"We could not have done it without the hospital's outstanding effort, and finally the grace of God," he added. "That's why I'm here."

Early data from the World Health Organization show that if you have a mild case of coronavirus, the recovery time is about two weeks. For patients with severe or critical cases, it can take up to six weeks.

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