Casey Gray spent more than 2 months hospitalized due to COVID-19 complications.By Casey Albritton

LARGO, Fla. (CW44 News At 10) – A Pinellas County man who spent more than 75 days in an intensive care unit fighting Coronavirus echoes local warnings to practice patience by not gathering for holidays. As the holidays draw near, local leaders are also asking people to be more careful than ever about taking COVID-19 precautions.

In October, CW44’s Andrea Alvarez interviewed Pinellas County man, Casey Gray to hear his experience of spending 51 days in a medically-induced coma due to COVID-19 at Largo Medical Center. Thursday, CW44’s Casey Albritton followed up with Gray and his physician to check his recovery progress.

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Credit: Casey Gray | CW44 News At 10

Mere months after beating the odds, he’s doing all he can to warn people about just how serious COVID-19 can be. Gray says it started in a seemingly innocuous way, “I had a cough. Nothing, like serious.” That’s what 28-year-old Casey Gray thought when he caught COVID-19 back in July, but just a few days later, that all changed. “I woke my wife up and I was like, ‘We need to go to the hospital right now. I can’t breathe.'”

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Doctors at Largo Medical Center first tried treating Gray with oxygen, but when it didn’t work. Together, they had to make a difficult decision. “They put [a mask on me] and basically counted of back from 10. I was under sedation for the next 50 days.”

It’s something Gray’s physician, Dr. Rachel Irby says was hard to see. “Oh yeah, I saw him every day. I saw him, I talked to him. Before he got intubated, before he ended up being on the ventilator.” While Gray was in the Intensive Care Unit of Largo Medical Hospital, Dr. Irby had a tough job, recalling her less-than-optimistic prognosis. “I remember telling his family, ‘I don’t think I don’t think he’s gonna pull out [of the coma]. I don’t think it’s gonna survive,” and when all hope seemed to lost, “then, the next day or the day after, [Gray] started getting better.”

Gray recounts his first memory of exiting his coma. “I woke up and I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even roll over by myself.” He spent the next few months in rehab, relearning  to walk and perform other simple tasks. Of the experience, he says, “It’s just kind of surreal.”

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Now gray has a message for everyone this holiday season: don’t gather in large groups. His suggestion is practicing patience now to reap the benefits once the virus passes. “It’s not worth going [through] what I went through. To spend time with some people, don’t do that [now]… spend time with them later.”

Dr. Irby reitteres Gray’s sentiments, stating, “We’re gonna have a normal Christmas next year. We’re gonna have a normal Thanksgiving. We’re gonna be able to travel this summer. So let’s just get there together.” She also says Largo Medical Center will be receiving COVID-19 vaccines sometime in the next week. The goal is to vaccinate as many people as possible.

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