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A 24-year-old Texas woman was “close to death” with the coronavirus but after 79 days at the hospital, was discharged July 15. 

She told CBS she wonders if mask-wearing could have prevented her terrifying experience. 

Others who haven’t taken the coronavirus seriously have expressed regret before dying the from the disease.

The CDC director said universal mask-wearing could get the virus under control in as little as 4 weeks. 

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Before Paola Castillo was admitted to the emergency room April 27 with coronavirus symptoms like coughing, trouble breathing, and a fever, the north Texas bank worker didn’t think the disease would affect her. 

“I’m always around people but I was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine.’ Never did I think I’d catch it,” Castillo told the local CBS station. 

But now, after 79 days in the hospital — where she was “close to death,” according to a hospital press release — Castillo can’t help but think she may have made a life-threatening mistake.  

“Maybe if I would have just listened and worn a mask, just a simple thing, I would have avoided all this,” she told the news station. 

Related video: 6 months of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S.

Castillo was discharged July 15 after spending more than a month in the intensive-care unit, on a ventilator, and on sedatives. After she was weaned off the ventilator, she remained in the hospital to undergo rehabilitative therapy to build back previously simple skills like walking, talking, and swallowing. 

While her complete recovery is still far from over, hospital staff “are celebrating her fighting spirit and remarkable recovery against dismal odds,” the press release said.  

Other people haven’t survived after reopenings and anti-science rhetoric suggested it wasn’t a serious threat

Other people have died after not taking the coronavirus seriously. In some cases, they’ve expressed regret on their deathbeds.

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A 30-year-old man who died in Texas after attending a “COVID party,” for one, told a nurse, “I think I made a mistake — I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not,” before passing away, according to the hospital’s chief medical officer.

A 51-year-old California man who went to a party in early June and died June 20 after being put on a ventilator expressed regret on Facebook the day before passing away, according to NBC. “Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy,” he wrote. “This has been a very painful experience.”

Other victims’ family members have spoken out about not ony the importance of taking precautions like mask-wearing to help control the outbreak and save lives, but also the need for public policies to reflect the reality of the disease. 

When an Arizona man died of coronavirus June 30, for example, his daughter squarely placed the blame on local and federal politicians for opening up before it was safe. 

“Despite all of the effort that I had made to try to keep my parents safe, I couldn’t compete with the governor’s office and I couldn’t compete with the Trump administration,” Kristin Urquiza told the Washington Post.

Mask-wearing is known to help protect both the wearer and those around them

On July 14 CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield called for universal mask wearing. 

“The data is clearly there that masking works,” Redfield told Dr. Howard Bauchner, JAMA’s editor in chief, during an interview Tuesday corresponding with a JAMA editorial on the topic. “If we can get everybody to wear a mask right now, I really do think in the next four, six, eight weeks … we can get this epidemic under control.”

He and colleagues pointed to several examples of masks’ effectiveness, including the two Missouri hairstylists who were infected with COVID-19 but did not infect any of their 140 clients, presumably because of the salon’s universal masking policy. 

A modeling program from the University of Washington has also projected universal masking could save 45,000 lives by November.

“Mask mandates delay the need for re-imposing closures of businesses and have huge economic benefits,” Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Director Dr. Christopher Murray said in a statement, MarketWatch reported. “Moreover, those who refuse masks are putting their lives, their families, their friends, and their communities at risk.”

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