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Self-proclaimed COVID skeptic in Oregon survives severe infection, encourages vaccination

Howard Breidenbach of Myrtle Creek admits he did not take the virus seriously and did not get vaccinated. He hopes his story will resonate with others like him.

OREGON, USA — An Oregon man is alive and back home after more than a hundred days in a Seattle hospital for COVID-19.

Howard Breidenbach of Myrtle Creek in southern Oregon admits he did not take the virus seriously.

"This is a conspiracy, just a flu they're overinflating," he recalled of his feelings prior to getting sick.

He refused vaccination at a pharmacy.

In late July, he had to be taken to the UW Medical Center, severely ill with COVID-19. He was semi-conscious for about three weeks, unable to breathe without the help of machines.

"I thought I was dead," Breidenbach said. "Couldn't remember my birthday, couldn't remember my name."

He had to put his growing trucking business on hold.

"We were set to retire within five years," he said. "I lost everything."

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Doctors told him he had a 30% chance to survive.

After 102 days in the hospital, Breidenbach was able to return home to Douglas County. He said he's now sharing his story with other people who are skeptical about COVID-19 and the vaccine as he was.

"I agree with them, they should have their choice," he said. "But at the same time, what freedom do you have in the grave, besides to be worm food?"

Douglas County is about 56% vaccinated, compared to more than 80% in Multnomah County.

During his Zoom interview with KGW Tuesday, Breidenbach was still connected to an oxygen tank and could not suppress his coughing.

"The COVID cough never goes away," he said.

He is now fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and urged people to separate pandemic issues from politics.

"Right and left, red and blue...we're still all neighbors."

RELATED: 'I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy': COVID-19 long-haulers urge people to get vaccinated

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