Fresno man outruns odds, demographics to tell a coronavirus survivor story

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Fresno man wrestled with coronavirus for two months, and this week he won.

Ronald Hill made it out alive and on his own two feet.

RELATED: 70-year-old man spends 45 days at Kaiser Permanente, beats COVID-19

"It's just been a total miracle," he said. "God saved my life."

The 70-year-old left the San Joaquin Valley Rehab Hospital Wednesday, after about two weeks of rehab.

It's been two months since he went to the hospital and got his COVID-19 diagnosis.

He spent 29 days in a medically induced coma, but he fought the virus and left Kaiser on a stretcher.

"When I got through, I couldn't walk," Hill said. "I couldn't remember anything, really."

Hill's battle with the virus mirrors those for a lot of people his age.

Fresno County statistics show the percentage of people needing hospitalization goes up with age, and drastically when the patient is older than 65.

The county's senior epidemiologist says race also matters.

"We are seeing that blacks do have a slightly higher percentage of cases that require hospitalization," said Dr. Stephanie Koch-Kumar from Fresno County Public Health Department.

Nearly 40% of African-Americans who get coronavirus have needed to go to the hospital, according to the county's latest statistics from last week.

The hospitalization rates are much lower for Hispanics at around 10%, whites at near 20%, and Asians at about 25%.

African Americans are more likely to die also, according to Fresno County's statistics and those nationwide.

But age is a more significant factor.

Of the 20 deaths in Fresno County, 17 victims were 65 and older. Seventeen of the 20 also had underlying conditions, and the three who didn't were over the age of 75.

At the age of 70 and with a history of leukemia, Hill outran the odds and walked away with a new outlook.

He's hoping his survival story can convince a few more people to help save lives.

"You know, I see so many people walking around with no masks, no nothing," he said. "And I didn't think this would ever happen to me, but it did. So I'm just grateful and tell everybody to get their masks on."

He's waving goodbye to his illness and hoping the next step is a healthy golf game.
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