GREGORY, Texas — Jesus Garza Jr. has been fighting the effects of COVID-19 since he got the virus in January.
He was hospitalized all of February, getting admitted because his oxygen levels were below normal, during which he was on a ventilator. While at the hospital he got Bronchitis and Pneumonia, which lead his lungs to be scarred. He was sent home with an oxygen tank, which he was on for two weeks.
Now, he said he gets tired quicker and being in bed for three weeks has caused his legs to become weak, so walking is hard.
He said he has to wait 90 days to get vaccinated against COVID-19, but doctors say he has the antibodies.
He’s back at work but his role has changed, not allowing him to be on scene during fires, so he works remotely. He has to communicate through text or radios with his crew, but he said sometimes it’s hard getting a response back because they’re working.
“I hate not knowing what’s going on…who’s there…if anything bad goes on or someone gets injured…not knowing what goes on because I can’t talk to them,” Garza said.
His role has taken a more behind-the-scenes approach, but he said he always wanted to be a firefighter and doesn’t want to give up the job.
“I still call the shots. I do more of the paperwork now. The meetings…I hold the meetings…I’ve been to the meetings and the training…the training I don’t do the training no more,” he said.
He said the doctors laughed at him when he asked whether he would be back on the scene fighting fires. Still, he remains optimistic and hopeful that he will be back.
"Breathing wise…I have been getting better…walking more…but I'm hoping…but the way the doctors are talking…no not really….but you never know,” Garza said.
He said he still hasn’t tried on the self-contained breathing apparatus mask firefighters use in action, because his doctors warned against it.
However, the City of Gregory told him they would not let him go. Even though he can’t actually go into buildings that are on fire or smoking after the fire because of his lung problems, he is expecting to go back onto the scene in two weeks on April 15.