'Rough to say the least:' Brown Deer man tested positive for COVID-19 days after 43rd birthday

BROWN DEER -- Just days after Mack Bates celebrated his birthday, he was hospitalized for COVID-19. Amid his recovery, he spoke with FOX6 News -- warning others this is a virus that should be taken seriously.

"I didn't feel well on my birthday, which is not usual at all," said Bates.

Bates said he never imagined a week after turning 43, he'd be speaking with FOX6 News from his hospital bed.

"It's rough," said Bates. "It's rough to say the least."

He said his symptoms started with fatigue, and got worse from there.

"Shortness of breath, some coughing, not a consistent cough, but consistent enough that it was like, oh, okay," said Bates.

Mack Bates

When he couldn't complete a dialysis treatment, he was taken to the hospital, where he was admitted on Thursday, March 26 and tested for COVID-19.

"This isn't something they need to be playing around with, especially if you have pre-existing conditions," said Bates.

Mack Bates

FOX6 News spoke with Bates Monday, March 30 -- recovering on an isolated floor at Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital -- hooked up to oxygen.

"Right now, I'm okay for the most part," said Bates. "My breathing is better than it has been. I'm happy about that."

Bates said he's looking forward to getting back to his normal routine, working, participating in community theater and spending time with loved ones.

He asked that everyone take the stay-at-home orders seriously to stop the spread.

"There's no beer out there that's worth this," said Bates. "There's no man or woman that's worth this. There's no pizza out there worth this. Just stay home."

Bates does have a pre-existing condition, but said everyone should be concerned. He said he wanted to stress how quickly this went from bad to worse, and how grateful he is to be receiving treatment.