JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A year into the pandemic, more than 296,000 people in the state have contracted COVID-19. And many who survived the virus are still dealing with mild to more serious long-term effects.
As Rev. Willie Jenkins, Jr. reads the Bible outside his Pearl home, he reflects on surviving COVID-19: “Even though the doctors have given up, but the Lord was ready to take over. "
Jenkins contracted the virus last year, and for nearly four months went back and forth to hospitals and rehab facilities battling complications, including pneumonia. He has been home since December.
Recently, Jenkins celebrated his 89th birthday with a drive-by party, but he admits life has changed. “I just can’t do what I use to do, and it grieves me.”
Jenkins says his taste hasn’t fully come back and he has an uncontrollable cough. “It is just a dry cough, and it really takes the strength out of me,” he explains.
The pastor says he also uses a walker to get around since battling COVID, saying, “it is a whole new lifestyle to be dependent.”
Mississippian Michael Mangialardi understands Jenkins’ pain. “I have never had this many health issues in my life,” he said.
He contracted COVID in February when he came back from Mexico. He had to be hospitalized. “I was one of earliest ones in Mississippi to have it.”
He says a year later and the problems from COVID keep coming.
“In October, November, my hands started tingling at night like you were sticking ice pick in them, and the neurologist determined I had severe carpal tunnel syndrome,” he said. “Also, my heel, when I wake up in the morning and I put pressure on it, feels like you are shoving a knife in my foot.
“I feel like I have aged for 10 years in the last 6 months. If I have to bend down to pick something up, my whole-body aches and it’s weird.”
Both men say after all they have gone through, they are blessed to be alive. They want people to get vaccinated because it could save your life.