Courier business manager, Holliday, hospitalized with COVID

The Courier’s business manager, Chris Holliday, is recovering from a serious bout with COVID-19, pneumonia, and two subsequent blood clots in his lungs that hospitalized him for more than two weeks.

“People need to understand this is so real. This can be life and death. It’s just that simple,” Holliday said after being released from the hospital Sept. 9. “This virus is absolutely evil. People need to take it seriously.”

Holliday began experiencing symptoms on Friday, Aug. 13, before being tested that Sunday at a Powdersville clinic. “Within about four minutes, the woman (administering the test) came back out and told me that ‘when it is this quick, it’s not good. You’re COVID positive,’” he recalled.

His wife, Kenda, also was experiencing mild symptoms, and both started self-quarantining. She has recovered and returned to work.

Throughout that week, his symptoms remained mild — a fever that wouldn’t break and a bad cough. But over the next weekend, his respiratory condition deteriorated quickly.

When he woke up Tuesday morning (Aug. 24), he knew he needed medical attention. Seemingly unable to leave a coherent message with his family physician, he agreed with Kenda that it was time to call EMS. His oxygen level, which normally should be in the upper 90s, was teetering around 70 percent.

He was transported to a Greenville hospital. After all he’d heard about the virus and knowing he soon could be placed on a ventilator like others, Holliday naturally reflected on his own mortality. “I know exactly where I’m going, but, God, if it’s OK, I’d rather not come right now, but it’s Your will, Lord,” he prayed.

“Probably those first four days, I slept a lot,” he recalled. “I just didn’t have strength … but at some point, I just knew in my heart, that it wasn’t time for me to go,” Holliday said. “As I was praying about that, I was also praying, ‘Lord, get my family ready for this, if that’s Your will.’ That’s what concerned me.”

Once he began feeling a bit more like himself again, he began pondering, “What can I learn from all this? What does God need me to see?”

Holliday sensed he knew why he was going through this ordeal. “It was because of the interaction I got to have with the nurses and respiratory techs,” he explained. “Every one of them — from that point forward — I had a chance to listen to their stories, pray with them, and try to be an encouragement every time they walked in.”

Because of their smiles, he believes it was appreciated and it worked. “It breaks my heart. Those folks are pouring themselves out to try to save people. This is something that for most of them is a calling,” he said. “Man, they’re getting their hearts broken, because they’re investing in these people, and they’re dying.”

One doctor told Holliday, “We are losing two to three people a day now from COVID.” Back in the summer, the hospital had only one COVID patient at one point, the doctor said, but between 130 and 150 on three-plus floors were there then.

“I mean, it’s just crazy!” Holliday exclaimed. “They’re seeing people die at rates that they’ve never had to deal with before. Man, we need to pray for these people!”

So, has his view about getting the vaccine changed after his serious battle with COVID?

“When the coronavirus was really taking off last year, I know a lot of people probably thought that there was something political about this,” Holliday said. “I can honestly say, I may have thought that as well, but what I discovered is that this is a very, very evil, deadly disease that doesn’t pick and choose,” he continued. “It can get those who are in excellent shape. It can get those who are in bad shape. It’s just bad. It’s very bad.”

Although he was unvaccinated when he contracted COVID, Holliday had decided, based on the new variants that are appearing, that he would get a vaccine

“I had not done it yet, and I had gotten slack about putting masks on and social distancing,” he said. “I thought, ‘OK, well it must be good now. This thing’s starting to level out’ – and then I got it (COVID).

Holliday said he and Kenda have been incredibly blessed by support from friends and church members. “We’ve got such a wonderful network of friends,” he said. “As they found out (that he had COVID), Kenda was really just picked up and carried by texts and phone calls. Obviously, nobody could come here, but the offers to help came from so many.”

Their faith also has been paramount in coping with the fears that come with COVID, he said.

“Faith was everything!” he exclaimed “That’s all it was. Because, otherwise, as human beings we cannot deal with that type of stuff. Our minds … we’re not strong enough to deal with it,” he added. “But when you know God has got it all under control, it sure does take the pressure off,” he told others. “And it does,” he nodded.

— By Todd Deaton