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Self-proclaimed ex-‘anti-vaxxer’ hospitalized with COVID-19 urges vaccinations


By Kay Recede

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    MANTECA, California (KCRA) — As the delta variant fuels a rise of COVID-19 cases in San Joaquin County, 25 people are in the ICU due to the virus. One of them is Philly Baird, a Ripon man who KCRA 3 first met in 2018.

Baird had been so devoted to his beloved NFL team, the Philadelphia Eagles, he had his name legally changed to ‘Philly Baird’.

Three years later, Baird fought for each breath at Doctor’s Medical in Manteca, as he battled COVID-19 and pneumonia.

“It’s not just the physical battle. You have to stay mentally strong every minute,” Baird told KCRA 3.

Despite the struggle, he shared his story.

“If I can help save anybody, I’m willing to use my voice to do that,” he said.

Baird said he first got sick after visiting Reno about four weeks ago. Days later, he noticed the first symptoms.

“I felt a little sick, like a cold and I ignored it,” he said.

However, his condition grew worse. On a Sunday, friends encouraged him to go to the emergency room. Once there, the staff gave him medicine and sent him home. Three days later, his condition worsened, and friends acted on his behalf.

“They know I’m stubborn, so they called 911 for me,” Baird said.

Baird said he wound up back at the hospital. This time, doctors told him he had a 50% chance of survival if he did not go to the ICU. Baird admitted that he was scared, but the hospital staff put his best friend on the phone, which comforted him.

Baird has been in the ICU for the past three weeks. He has been sharing his story on social media, taking his friends into the hospital room with him, as he fights for his life.

“I will use my voice to help others realize this is real,” he said.

A stark contrast to his prior beliefs. Baird said before he got sick, he believed in the anti-vaccination propaganda.

“I was an idiot. I didn’t get the shot, I believed in all the hoopla,” he told KCRA 3.

His mind has been changed.

“It’s not going to stop you from getting COVID, don’t be stupid. It’s just going to prevent you from fighting minute-by-minute to be with your loved ones,” Baird explained.

Baird’s recovery has been slow, but he continued to push forward, with the help of a community of people just beyond his hospital walls.

“It fuels me to keep pushing every day to know that all the support is there,” he said.

Baird did add that there have been some people who claim he just wants attention.

“Trust me, this is the last thing I would ever do for attention,” Baird said. “I just want people to be compassionate.”

Baird also said that reading people’s letters has helped him pass the time while he continues his recovery in the hospital. If you would like to write Philly:

Philly Baird

ICU Room 106 Doctors Hospital Of Manteca

1205 E North St

Manteca, CA 95336

The number of COVID-19 related deaths and cases continues to climb in San Joaquin County, according to officials. In a release, the public health department shared the most recent data:

San Joaquin County COVID-19 latest statistics as of July 27, 2021:

76,915 total COVID-19 cases; 1,460 deaths; 74 people hospitalized; 25 people in ICU; 13 people on ventilators 364,832 total residents have been fully or partially vaccinated through the County, as well as other multi-county entities, hospital systems, and pharmacies comprising 56.1% of San Joaquin County’s total population 48.3% of residents aged 12 or over are fully vaccinated and 7.8% are partially vaccinated 11.5 daily new cases (per 100,000), up from 4.3 on July 6 6% positive tests for the entire county, up from 2.6% on July 6

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