'It attacks you:' Milwaukee educator recovering from COVID-19 hopes others take virus seriously

MILWAUKEE -- A Milwaukee educator is recovering after being diagnosed with COVID-19. After his experience battling the virus, he said he hopes others will take it seriously.

Richard Watkins was tested on March 15. Days later, he got confirmation that he had the coronavirus.

"Once it attacks you, it attacks you," Watkins said. "I started to get really cold. I had a fever every day, seven straight days, 100-102 degrees every day.

Just 10 days ago, his life was turned upside down. He went from being a social guy, to being isolated.

Richard Watkins

"My doctor called me and told me, 'Yes, you have tested positive for the virus,'" said Watkins. "That just put me at a loss for words, to be quite honest."

Originally tested for the flu, what started as a fever and nausea got more serious as the days went on.

"I had on sweatpants, hoodie, and all of that, and my wife had me under like, four blankets and I'm absolutely freezing," Watkins said. "I'm asking myself, 'Am I about to checkout?'"

And it only got worse. The educator doesn't know how he contracted the coronavirus, but said he comes in contact with hundreds of people each day. He wants people to take COVID-19 seriously, especially those in the African American community.

"We look here in our city, and the people who are passing away are African American men," said Watkins. "It's dispelling a myth that it's older people, like our parents' type age."

Richard Watkins

He is grateful to now be recovering, knowing his situation could have been much worse.

"I feel beyond lucky," he said. "I feel that I was covered by a higher power."

Milwaukee Health Commissioner Jeanette Kowalik echoed what Watkins said. She said the highest number of cases the city is seeing is in men ages 25-64. The virus is hitting the African American community especially hard.