Milwaukee Public Schools teacher recovering after testing positive for coronavirus

Posted at 10:02 PM, Mar 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 12:01:47-04

The Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) employee who tested positive for coronavirus is speaking-out while still in the hospital.

His name is Reggie Johnson. He is still isolated at Ascension St. Francis Hospital. But he wants to send a message to his family, friends, and the general public.

"Thank you all for praying for me," Johnson said. "I love you for it. I don't know if I could have gotten through this otherwise."

Johnson is doing a lot better, finally able to take his oxygen mask off.

"I still have a cough, but it is what it is," he said.

The 38-year-old special education teacher at Hopkins-Lloyd Elementary School recently traveled to Atlanta. When he returned home, he felt awful. But he says doctors took a week to diagnose him with COVID-19.

"They kept sending me home saying it was the flu or pneumonia," he said. "Finally, I was at my house and couldn't move anymore. My family made me get back to the hospital. I was coughing up blood."

So, what does it feel like to have coronavirus?

"I'm not going to lie, it felt like death for a bit," he said. "It's rough."

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He says the fever and shortness of breath are the worst parts.

"My fever would go from 103 to 92, so I'd be freezing, then burning up and sweating," he said. "Your body just shuts down. You can't breathe. I couldn't breathe for about three or four days."

Being in isolation, unable to get visits from any loved ones while in the hospital, is an added mental and emotional challenge.

"It's serious, and it's real," he said. "There have been so many IV's. I've been poked with dozens of needles. I had to get blood drawn at least four times a day for the past week. They have given me every type of medicine they can think of."

His message to others? Don't take social distancing lightly. He wouldn't wish this virus on anyone.

Johnson worked closely with MPS leaders and the Milwaukee Health Department, so they could get in touch with anyone who may have come in contact with him. One hundred fifty students attend Hopkins-Lloyd. All of them, along with staff and their families, were asked to self-quarantine.

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