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Mayor survives COVID hospitalization

For The Madera Tribune

A happy Madera Mayor, Santos Garcia, gives a thumbs up on the morning of his discharge while standing next to Christina, one of his nurses in the intensive care COVID ward at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Fresno. Garcia recently spent six days there battling the COVID-19 virus.


Madera Mayor Santos Garcia is feeling lucky to be alive after his recent battle and six day hospitalization with COVID-19 and wants to share his cautionary tale.

Garcia, 64, began feeling ill on Feb. 3, the evening of a city council meeting held remotely on Zoom. Having tested negative for the virus several times before during the course of the pandemic, he laughed it off and attributed his aches and pains to “old guy issues,” during the public meeting.

Garcia got tested for COVID-19 the next day and said it was straight downhill from there with serious aches and pains, fevers, chills and even some difficulty breathing over the weekend.

“I was a little shocked at the positive result, but I also knew something was really wrong. The aches and pain from the fevers started slow, but were ... on a scale of 1 to 10 ... a 10.” Garcia said. “I’ve had malaria (while traveling) ... and that’s bad, even called break bone fever ... but COVID was even worse than that. I couldn’t eat or get up for long and then spent two or three days in the fetal position in bed. But I was lucky. My daughter, a nurse, came over and tested my pulse oxygenation levels. My oxygen levels were so low, she took me straight to the emergency room at Kaiser,” he said.

Garcia said his wife Martha had also tested positive but, thankfully, she had a much milder case and was doing well.

Garcia urged residents to take the COVID-19 virus and pandemic seriously. “I thought I was being careful, but I still got it somehow. I spent six days there in the intensive care COVID ward. I don’t remember much about the first few days. They threw everything they had at it and got it under control. The antibodies infusion, the steroids, high dose vitamins, everything. They literally saved my life.” Garcia said.

Garcia said he also remembers — even through the intense fevers and brain fog — watching how dedicated and hard working the entire team was in the COVID ward at the Kaiser Permanente hospital in north Fresno.

“I could see their concerns and commitment, but also the strain and their fatigue. All the stress of the (protective) procedures and protocols they have to go through. Stepping in to care for all the isolated patients, going the extra mile. Dealing with the deaths. It’s something I’ll never forget.” Garcia said. “I can’t thank them all enough. The doctors, the nurses, the cleaning staff, cooks, admin ... everybody there.

“Please take this pandemic seriously. Do everything recommended. Wash your hands, wear your mask, and social distance. And especially get tested if you feel ill. Don’t postpone it,” Garica urged. “I know early medical treatment saved my life.”

Garcia was released Wednesday morning, in time and strong enough to hold another remote city council meeting.

“I’m still tired and a little weak and know I still have a ways to go yet, hopefully, to make a full recovery. They told me how difficult and seriously unpredictable this new virus and the new disease is. There are still a lot of unknowns.” he said.

The Garcias thanked everyone for their concern and well wishes, and said they will be quarantining and, hopefully, resting at home for the next few weeks during their recovery.


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