Man with coronavirus: ‘I have had the flu before but I ain’t never felt this bad’

(ROME, Ga.) — A man in Rome, Georgia, said he was initially sent home after he went to the hospital with flu-like symptoms and later tested positive for coronavirus.

Clay Bentley told ABC News on Wednesday that on March 1 he sang in the more-than-100-member choir at the Church at Liberty Square in Cartersville, Georgia.

Bentley said he went home after church and woke up Monday morning, feeling so sick he went to urgent care in Rome, Georgia. When they checked his vitals, he said, his oxygen levels were really low and he was sent to a hospital.

“I was so weak that I couldn’t even stand up,” he told ABC News.

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At Redmond Regional Medical Center, the medical staff ran additional tests on him for the flu and pneumonia but he said the tests all came back negative.

“Then they asked me if I had been out of the country,” he recalled, “and I told them ‘No.’ … So they sent me home, and over the next four days, I got really bad. … I called the hospital Friday morning. … [I said:] ‘I’m not getting any better. … I don’t know what I’m supposed to do.’ So they told me to come back to the hospital. And, that’s when they saw it was really bad.”

When he returned to the hospital, he was tested for coronavirus, and the test came back positive.

“I just assumed I had the flu,” said Bentley, who described his symptoms as “basic flu-like symptoms,” including no energy, difficulty breathing, body aches, chills and fevers.

His adult son, a police officer, has been quarantined at home along with his 4-year-old grandson, whose school was also shut down, Bentley said.

Bentley is currently quarantined in the hospital.

“I have had the flu before, but I ain’t never felt this bad,” he said.

He said he’d been told that seven or eight people in the choir were in the hospital.

In a letter to its members shared with ABC News, the Church at Liberty Square said that it had learned on Wednesday from the Northwest Georgia Department of Public Health that there were “two confirmed positive cases” of coronavirus among people who’d attended Sunday morning services in the last two weeks.

The church told its members that it was immediately sanitizing its campus according to guidelines from the Environmental Protection Agency and would be canceling Wednesday services. The church said it would resume normal Sunday services.

“On a personal and pastoral note, my heart goes out to all those affected by this illness and any illness going around. Please know that God is with you, and we will get through this together. This is not a time for panic and fear, but rather a time to be wise and trust in our loving and faithful God,” said senior pastor Jacob King.

Bentley told ABC News his wife had not been tested for coronavirus but that she was being quarantined at home for two weeks. He said she was told to go home because she wasn’t displaying symptoms.

“I’ve been around her the whole week,” he said. “They have not tested her, and I don’t understand.”

Although Bentley said doctors were giving him breathing treatments and antibiotics, he expressed frustration over the hospital sending him home when he first came in.

“If they had tested me for coronavirus when I first came to the hospital, I wouldn’t have got in such bad shape before they were able to start helping me,” he said. “They let me get to the worst that I could possibly get before they started trying to help me.”

Redmond Regional Medical Center’s spokeswoman confirmed in a statement that Bentley, who had given the hospital permission, had tested positive for coronavirus and that were two patients with the virus at the hospital.

“Redmond Regional Medical Center has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we have been working diligently to ensure we are prepared for potential issues related to COVID-19. … We are following infection prevention protocols for COVID-19 patients, including isolation, to help ensure the safety of our colleagues, patients and visitors, and we continue to work closely with the CDC and the Georgia Department of Public Health,” said spokeswoman Andrea Pitts in an email to ABC News.

Pitts said further that “as part of our preparations for coronavirus, we have been reinforcing infection prevention protocols, and last week we implemented new screening procedures at hospital entrances as a proactive measure. We have positioned supplies at points of entry, so that any potential symptomatic patient who arrives can be properly masked and immediately isolated to protect our colleagues and other patients.”

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