Augusta mayor wishes he would’ve taken COVID-19 more seriously after family contracts the virus

“I found out that no, this is nothing like a respiratory infection. It’s nothing like the flu.”

AUGUSTA, Arkansas — The mayor of Augusta is currently fighting COVID-19 and members of his family are also sick.

Jeff Collins said he wishes he would’ve taken the virus more seriously at first.

“It has opened my eyes in a different way towards this virus,” he said.

RELATED: Arkansas ‘miracle patient’ recovers from COVID after 87 days in the hospital

Collins is on his third day struggling with COVID-19.

“I found out that no, this is nothing like a respiratory infection. It’s nothing like the flu,” he said.

The Augusta mayor is the fourth one in his family to receive the positive test in the past two weeks.

Collins described it as a “chain reaction.”

“We have tried to do the right thing, what we thought was right in our minds, as far as wearing the mask and social distancing the whole time. It just caught up with us,” he said.

Collins’ oldest daughter was diagnosed the weekend before Christmas and his granddaughter was soon after. 

Collins and his wife, Leslie, then began to quarantine, but on Sunday things took a turn for the worse. 

“Her blood pressure and potassium fell low and she passed out here at the house,” he said.

Leslie spent the next two days in the hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19, and Collins followed. 

While his granddaughter was asymptomatic, him and his wife feel weak and have shortness of breathe, but his daughter is still fighting.

“I talked to her yesterday, she said she feels just as bad as she felt day one,” he said.

After having the holidays spent in quarantine and sick, Collins said this family experience will cause him to be more aware.

“I think there will be some stricter rules coming down for our city employees on how we work together. I will be a lot more strict on the rules, I won’t be as lenient,” he said.

The mayor hopes he can be an example.

RELATED: Crowded hospitals causing challenges for EMS providers across Arkansas

“I wish more people would have taken it seriously, I wish I would’ve taken it more seriously at first,” Collins said. 

Collins also pushed the importance of mask wearing and how it just takes this simple gesture to keep others safe.