WACO, Texas — Waco community leader, David Littlewood, shared his near death experience after contracting COVID-19 during a news conference Wednesday morning.
Littlewood, along with Mayor Dillon Meek, other community leaders and healthcare officials held the town hall virtually to stress the importance of getting vaccinated.
He shared how he did not get vaccinated, believing at first that, as long as he was healthy, he wasn't at risk of getting the deadly illness.
"I wasn't fearful at all of COVID. I was fearful for others who were at high risk," he said.
At the time, because Littlewood did not receive the vaccine, he faced consequences.
"My experience was very unexpected, I was... very healthy, had never really been sick in my life...," he said. "... I would have been considered a mild case [of COVID-19] for about the first week; seven to nine days. Then my case turned very dark and very drastic. I declined and so, from that point forward for about 10 days, I ran a fever of about 102 to 105, which is a lot of fever for anybody, for an adult, a senior... I thought I was not going to make it."
The mayor and healthcare officials are hoping that experiences like Littlewood's will change how others feel about the vaccine.
About 43% of people over 12 years old in the county are fully vaccinated against the airborne illness. Yet, there are over 32,779 active cases in McLennan County alone.
Director of Waco-McLennan County Public Health, LaShonda Marey-Horne, who was also on the call, expressed the increase in number of cases and the effects it has had on hospitals overall.
According to officials, the number of patients who are hospitalized due to COVID-19 has skyrocketed from 10 to 166 patients and still counting.
"Our hospitals are at a point where they have to make very hard decisions," Marey-Horne said. "Hospitals are nearly full, all 54 ICU beds are in use, and 45 non-ICU beds are being converted to care for critical patients."
Healthcare official and local family physician Dr. Clint McHenry couldn't stress enough the importance of getting the vaccine. He presented a letter on the call, which was signed by nearly 300 local physicians, urging citizens to get vaccinated.
"We strenuously urge you to listen to us; your physicians... please sign up and get fully vaccinated against COVID-19," McHenry read.
Littlewood urged citizens to heed his warning about the deadly disease. He finished with these words of advice for unvaccinated citizens.
"I'm not a doctor but I do read and and I just believe that in this situation, it's in your best interest and in everyone's best interest to just bite the bullet and go get the vaccine, go on about your life, and I think that's the way we return to normalcy," he stated. "I would just ask anyone who's on the fence to reconsider."
"I urge anyone who hasn't received the vaccine to consult with your doctor," Meek added.
A virtual news conference regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations in Waco will also be held for Spanish speakers later on Wednesday at 6 p.m.
6 News will be livestreaming the event.
Watch the full conference below: