NORTH LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Nevada’s first COVID-19 patient was released from the North Las Vegas VA hospital on Monday. Ronald Pipkins, a 55-year-old Marine Corps veteran, made an emotional exit, with VA Southern Nevada Health Care System employees cheering him on.
According to a news release, Pipkins was transferred to a local medical rehabilitation center.
He was diagnosed with the virus nearly two months ago and woke up from a coma just three weeks ago.
“It feels fantastic. I hate to leave; I made a lot of friends, but I’ve got to go and see my family,” said Pipkins.
Pipkins was initially admitted to the hospital March 2 for pneumonia but later tested positive for the coronavirus after developing a fever.
Gov. Steve Sisolak reached out to the veteran while he recovered.
“I never thought I’d be famous just for being alive,” he stated. “But I hope that I can make people realize how serious this virus is. I wish no one would get this disease. This is a terrible virus because once it gets ahold of you, it really tries to take you out.”
Pipkins has undergone rehabilitation since testing negative for COVID-19 twice at the beginning of April. The veteran expressed his appreciation for the VA facility’s staff and praised their service.
He also spoke an important message to the public, saying, “Listen to the health professionals. A lot of people think it won’t get them, but if it gets you, you will feel some very painful things happening to your body. So, I tell you, ‘put on the mask. Going to work is not as important as living. It’s better to be broke and alive than to have money and be dying.”
Pipkins noted his recovery is going well and that he’ll “pick up the pace” when he gets to rehab.