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Special Report Part 2: Valley couple spends weeks battling COVID-19

3 months 2 days 11 hours ago Wednesday, September 01 2021 Sep 1, 2021 September 01, 2021 8:15 AM September 01, 2021 in Investigations

In Part 1 of our Special Report from inside a COVID-19 ICU, Channel 5 News told you the stories of the doctors and nurses working through the surge of COVID-19 hospitalizations.

RELATED: Special Report: Inside look of ICU COVID unit

In Part 2 of our report, Channel 5’s Issmar Ventura shares the story of a Valley couple who spent weeks battling the disease.

The Rangel family says that their days in the intensive care unit were agonizing. As time passed, their conditions got worse. They say they regret not getting the COVID-19 vaccine and have a message to the community.

"To be honest I was one of the people that didn’t quite believe in it, I knew it was a virus but I didn't think it was that bad of a virus,” said Luis Rangel.

For Luis and Minerva Rangel, living with coronavirus inside a hospital has been their worst nightmare. Minerva has been hospitalized for a month.

"She was very close to getting intubated, by the grace of God she is not, but I have seen her suffer a lot," Luis said.

Luis says that although he overcame the illness, he wishes he could go back in time to get vaccinated.

"We didn't get the vaccine because there are rumors out there that you get side effects and it was too soon for them to just release the vaccine," Luis Rangel said.

Dr. José Luis Villalobos says that the pandemic continues because of those who have not been vaccinated. Among the most affected are people with pre-existing conditions.

"The young people below 30 that unfortunately died and the main thread that I saw is that they were morbidly obese," Dr. Villalobos said. "And when you are intubated and a machine is helping you breathe, on top of that you are carrying all this extra weight, it puts too many pressures on the lungs."

Dr. Villalobos says that the coronavirus will continue mutating with more variants, like delta, which is why he says it is so important to get vaccinated.

Matt Wolthoff, the executive director of Harlingen Medical Center, emphasizes that although science and medicine are more advanced now, the threat of our hospital systems collapsing is still a large concern.

"What is complicating that or exacerbating that vulnerability is that a lot of our population who are chronically ill, with conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure, over the last 18 months have not taken care of themselves by regularly going to their physician or seeking care when they need it," Wolthoff said.

Wolthoff says the Valley has not reached herd immunity.

"We are all very busy as hospital organizations with catching up and caring for our chronically ill patients," Wolthoff said. "And then if you added another surge from the resurgence of pandemic, we would be certainly saturated and extremely challenged."

A spokesperson with the Harlingen Medical Center says Minerva Rangel is back home with her family.

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