Las Vegas principal battling COVID-19 shares his story, urgent message

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LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A Las Vegas elementary school principal is in the hospital fighting to stay alive after contracting COVID-19.

Laurence Derasmo, principal at Roger Bryan Elementary School, was admitted Saturday after he was unable to breathe. He’d been monitoring his symptoms at home.

“I woke up one day and my life changed,” Derasmo said. “It’s scary to think that at 39 years old you can’t breathe on your own because of a virus that’s taking over your lungs, and the possibility of not making it.”

Derasmo said he’s heard people compare COVID-19 to the flu, but, for him, it’s been far worse.

“It’s the flu times 100, 24 hours a day,” Derasmo said. “You wake up and you think, ‘What’s going to happen today? What’s this virus going to bring to test me today?'”

The 39-year-old currently has pneumonia in both lungs and has been hospitalized for four days. Derasmo told sister station KLAS from his hospital bed that, after 14 days with COVID-19, he woke up and felt like he was improving for the first time – thanks to the blood thinners, steroids and antibiotics doctors gave him.

Derasmo said he has no idea where he caught coronavirus. “We did all the things we’re supposed to do and we both ended up with it, me and my husband.” He said his husband has suffered only minimal symptoms and appears to be on a “different path” with the virus.

He is using technology to share updates from his hospital bed and warns everyone to take the virus seriously.

“It turned my life upside down in an instant, and I don’t want anybody else to have to go through sitting in a hospital room by themselves contemplating if they’re going to live or die for a night out at the casino,” Derasmo said.

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