‘Do not take this virus as a joke’: 25-year-old L.A. COVID-19 survivor shares warning after brush with death

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A 25-year-old Los Angeles woman who nearly lost her life to COVID-19 wants to warn other young people that the virus is not to be taken lightly.

Jennifer Martinez said she, herself, didn’t take the pandemic very seriously a month ago. She’s young, has no underlying medical problems and has never smoked, so she didn’t match the criteria for being at high risk.

Jennifer Martinez, 25, of South Los Angeles is recovering from a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. She's pictured in an undated photo obtained by KTLA.
Jennifer Martinez, 25, of South Los Angeles is recovering from a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. She’s pictured in an undated photo obtained by KTLA.

But then in March, she said she lost her senses of taste and smell. She was initially diagnosed with bronchitis, but her condition only continued to worsen.

“I started to cough, and I didn’t stop coughing for four hours straight,” Martinez said. “I couldn’t take it any more. My lungs started to hurt.”

Martinez said her chest x-rays were startling. “My lungs seemed like a 70-year-old person’s lungs, and (like) I’ve been smoking my entire life.”

Doctors placed Martinez on a ventilator and she was put into a medically induced coma for 10 days.

Jennifer Martinez, 25, of South Los Angeles is recovering from a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. She speaks with KTLA on April 11, 2020.
Jennifer Martinez, 25, of South Los Angeles is recovering from a life-threatening COVID-19 infection. She speaks with KTLA on April 11, 2020.

She’s now recovering at home from her brush with death.

And she has a message for other young people who might not be taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously.

“Honestly, in the beginning, I took it as a joke. I honestly said, ‘It’s not going to affect me,'” Martinez said.

“Do not take this virus as a joke. It’s a scary experience. It’s scary to fight for your life,” she said. “Stay healthy, stay home.”

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