Despite a brief hospitalization, Stone County Sheriff Mike Farmer is recovering from COVID-19.

Farmer said it is not a hoax and everyone should take serious precautions: wear a mask, wash hands, and practice social distancing.

“It’s very real,” Farmer said. “And when you can’t breathe, it’s very scary.”

Farmer began showing symptoms on June 22.

“I went to bed that Sunday night feeling fine,” Farmer said. “About 3 a.m. I woke up shaking so bad I woke my wife.”

He had a high fever and was in pain. On June 23, he tested positive.

His symptoms got so bad he was having trouble breathing. Farmer spent three days in the hospital where he was treated with oxygen.

“It feels like you're breathing in fire,” he said. “Like when the weather is really cold, and you try to go running and breathe in freezing cold.”

He still has a chronic cough and, at times, uses oxygen to help him breathe. His remaining symptoms are worse at night time.

Farmer said he also lost some of his sense of taste and smell.

“If I yawn real big or if I take a deep breath, my lungs still burn,” he said.

Although Farmer and his family were not too worried about catching it, they were cautious. He was surprised his COVID-19 symptoms were so severe.

“I’m perfectly healthy,” he said. “I don't smoke. I don't have diabetes or high blood pressure—no preexisting conditions.”

Farmer said he does not know where he could have caught it. He has not interacted with any people who had symptoms.

In the past month, while Farmer has been home, no one from the Stone County Sheriff Department has reported any symptoms. One correction officer reported a fever, but she did not develop the virus.

But symptoms can vary greatly.

“I don’t know if everybody gets the same symptoms,” he said.

His wife had many of the same symptoms during the same time frame, but not as severe and she did not have a fever. She tested negative.

Farmer said thankfully, his daughter and two-year-old granddaughter have developed symptoms either.

According to his doctor, he is no longer contagious since his fever is gone. But he must be symptom-free for 72 hours before he can resume work. He is waiting until he can return to work.

He hopes COVID-19 will not have long-term effects on his health.

Despite the virus, Farmer is in good spirits.

“I’m doing a lot better,” Farmer said. “I’m just not well yet.”

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