Fresno Co. doctor contracts COVID-19 after patient enters clinic without mask

FRESNO, Calif. -- As coronavirus cases grow in Fresno County, a doctor who provides services to many underserved people in our community has been hospitalized.

Dr. Juan Bautista has contracted the disease.

Bautista works out of clinics in Fresno, Sunnyside, and Sanger. His mission is helping those who need it most - like farmworkers and the elderly.

Three weeks ago, a sick patient came into the office without a mask on. He believes that's how it spread - not only to him, but two others.

He is now fighting for his every breath inside Saint Agnes Medical Center, two days after he had to call for an ambulance when his oxygen levels dipped to the low 80s.

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"I'm in pretty good shape but those coughing spells are like running sprints. If you are not in shape they could gas you pretty quick. Eventually I couldn't even walk a few steps or hold a conversation," says Doctor Bautista.

Dr. Bautista felt like he had sand in his chest. Although he never had a fever or chills, coughing fits brought tears and lasted close to two minutes.

"The reason I'm able to survive this is because I am healthy. I have asthma but other than that I eat well, I exercise every day," he says.

Three weeks ago, despite signs outside a Sanger Medical Clinic office asking patients to not come inside if they have a cough or fever, Dr. Bautista says a sick patient walked in.

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Dr. Bautista wasn't the only one in the medical clinic who got sick. An office manager did along with Bautista's father, Doctor Jose Luis Bautista.

"Our poor manager is ventilated in the ICU right now. And my dad who works close with her got it and my father gave it to me," he says.

Dr. Bautista has heard a lot of debate about the virus and opinions about mask-wearing. He believes - no matter where you stand - respect and kindness should be at the core of our community.

Dr. Bautista is feeling better and hopeful he will be out of the hospital within the next few days.

His dad had different symptoms altogether and mostly stomach-related problems and body aches. But he did fare better and was never hospitalized.
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