Friends and family greet East Bay man as he's released from Castro Valley hospital after overcoming coronavirus

An East Bay man who survived COVID-19 is sharing his story to offer hope to others fighting the coronavirus and their families. 

Jorge Flores of San Leandro said he was healthy so he never expected to have to fight for his life. 

"I'm so excited," said Flores as he waved to the medical staff from his wheelchair as he was being released from Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley Thursday evening. 

"Yay, I made it," said Flores to his family and friends as they greeted him outside from a distance.

He was hospitalied for 17 days; nine of them in ICU. 

Flores has words of caution. "It's serious. A lot of people don't take it for real. They just go out. They go to parties." 

Flores said last month, when he first got a fever, he called his doctor who told him to take Tylenol.

When his condition worsened, he went to a hospital in Hayward. He was told to go home and relax.

"I came home. I couldn't breathe. My nose was completely closed. My mouth was dry," said Flores.  

At that point, he drove himself to Eden Medical Center.

"As soon as I got to the emergency room, I don't remember anything. When I woke up, I was in ICU." 

Flores said he was on a ventilator for about two weeks. 

He suspects he contracted the coronavirus from his son Aaron who lives with him. 

He said the 18-year-old had a fever after being released from Santa Rita Jail. 

"They not test him when he went in. They not test him when he got out so that was the thing I was worried about," said Flores.  

His son recovered within days.

The single father is shocked that COVID-19 hit him so hard.

"I was a healthy person. I never smoke. I never drink," said Flores. 

He's a computer instructor for a non-profit in Oakland. His employer was among those who greeted him when he was released from  the hospital.

"I would tell Jorge to rest. He'll be out and about trying to help everybody that he can," said Shomari Carter, Flores's employer and friend.

The medical staff wished Flores well as he was preparing to be discharged from the hospital. 

He expressed gratitude to the team who saved his life. 

He hoped his story offers hope. 

"The doctor told my family, I'm sorry. He's not going to make it. But I'm here and I thank god for that," said Flores, that it's a miracle he survived.

He said he still has some difficulty walking and that he'll be getting physical therapy twice a week.

But overall, he said he feels good.