“It is a disease that wants to kill us,” state Rep. David Byrd wrote over the weekend in a statement cited by NewsChannel 5 in Nashville. “Please take it seriously.”
The Tennesseean reported that Byrd attended a state House Republican retreat in November, which included a dinner with dozens present, and he was seen on the House floor without a mask on Nov. 24.
Byrd was diagnosed with coronavirus one day later.
“Foolishly, I believed this virus only seriously affected people who are at high risk,” he stated. “COVID took over my lungs with lightning speed. I developed pneumonia. I got sicker and sicker, and more and more anxious. Every breath was pure agony.”
Byrd was hospitalized on Dec. 5, the beginning of an eight-month ordeal that included 55 days on a ventilator. After he seemed to be recovering, his liver failed and he needed a transplant.
Byrd said his family was faced with “the very real prospect of planning my funeral” as the infection took over his lungs “with lightning speed.” And while he was unconscious, his family was traumatized daily by his illness. He is now urging people to get vaccinated.
“I understand the concerns of those who are hesitant,” Byrd stated. “To them, I would say COVID is real and it is very dangerous.”