A Florida man who thought the coronavirus was "a fake crisis" has changed his mind after he and his wife contracted COVID-19.
Brian Hitchens, a rideshare driver who lives in Jupiter, downplayed the seriousness of the coronavirus in Facebook posts in March and April.
"I'm honoring what our government says to do during this epidemic but I do not fear this virus because I know that my God is bigger than this Virus will ever be," he wrote in a post on April 2. "Jesus is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
In mid-April, Hitchens, 46, began documenting his and his wife's health on Facebook.
"Been home sick for over a week. Both my wife and I home sick," he wrote in a post on April 18. "I've got no energy and all I want to do is sleep."
A day later, Hitchens and his wife, Erin, were admitted to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center, Hitchens said in a Facebook post.
Hitchens could not immediately be reached for comment Monday. The voicemail box for a number listed for him is full.
There have been at least 46,442 cases of the coronavirus in Florida - with 1,997 deaths - reported as of Monday morning, according to state health data.
In a lengthy post on May 12, Hitchens said that he was once among those who thought the coronavirus "is a fake crisis" that was "blown out of proportion" and "wasn't that serious."
That changed when he started to feel sick in April and stopped working, he wrote.
Hitchens said he "had just enough energy" to drive himself and his wife to Palm Beach Gardens Medical Center on April 19, where they both tested positive for the virus.
"They admitted us right away and we both went to ICU," he wrote. "I started feeling better within a few days but my wife got worse to the point where they sedated her and put her on the ventilator."
Hitchens said he never experienced terrible aches and pains but felt weak and exhausted. He said he felt better on May 12, at which point he had been in the hospital for three weeks, and that he still had COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus. He also said he had pneumonia in his lungs.
"As of today my wife is still sedated and on the ventilator with no signs of improving," Hitchens wrote. "There were a couple times were they tried to start weaning her off the ventilator but as soon as they've done that her oxygen level dropped and they had to put her back on the ventilator full time."
He said his wife of eight years has been sick "quite a few times" in the past and she always fought through. This time, he said, "I have come to accept that my wife may pass away."
Hitchens, who has been unable to see his wife since they were hospitalized, said he was holding out hope she would recover.
"This thing is nothing to be messed with please listen to the authorities and heed the advice of the experts," he wrote. "We don't have to fear this and by heeding the advice doesn't mean that you fear it that means you're showing wisdom during this epidemic time."
The May 12 post, in which he implored people to "use wisdom," has been shared more than 500 times.
"Looking back I should have wore a mask in the beginning but I didn't and perhaps I'm paying the price for it now," he wrote. If he passed the virus on to his wife, he said, he knows that she and God forgive him.
"So just think about what I said and if you have to go out please use wisdom and don't be foolish like I was ... so the same thing won't happen to you like it happened to me and my wife," he wrote.
Hitchens had one thing to say in a Facebook post Monday to people who have sent him "nasty messages" saying he deserved to die: "'I AM NEGATIVE"! "PRAISE THE LORD!'"