They Thought COVID-19 Was a Hoax
Until they fell ill
Ruben Mata, a fitness trainer in Stanton, California, who has traveled the world as a motivational speaker, was adamant in the early days of the epidemic that the coronavirus was not real. Most of what he had heard about the virus he’d gleaned from his friends at the gym he attended religiously, even as the pandemic raged across the U.S. But just a couple of weeks after the Trump administration declared a national emergency on March 13, Mata, 53, was diagnosed with COVID-19. He subsequently spent five days in a medically induced coma; at one point he was given less than a 40 percent chance of survival. Now he wants others to learn from his missteps.
“Before I contracted it I thought, ‘It’s just made up, it’s all fabricated’,” Mata told NBC News “Global Hangout” this week, adding that he figured his six-day-a-week gym habit and healthy eating regimen would spare him even if it did exist. “That’s what prevented me from getting help sooner, when it went really bad.”
Mata is not alone.
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