Ronald Pipkins

LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Nevada's first patient to test positive for COVID-19 left the hospital on Monday.

Ronald Pipkins, 55, was being treated at the North Las Vegas VA medical center and left to the cheers of staff, according to the hospital. This comes two months after testing positive and three weeks since awakening from a coma. Pipkins is being transferred to a local medical rehabilitation facility. 

“It feels fantastic,” Pipkins said, via the hospital. “I hate to leave, I made a lot of friends, but I’ve got to go and see my family.”

Pipkins was admitted on March 2 for pneumonia. When he developed a fever, he tested positive for the new coronavirus and within 24 hours had tested positive. Much of the last month was spend on a ventilator in a medically-induced coma, the hospital said. 

The VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System said Pipkins inspired staff and fellow veterans with his story and was recently called by Gov. Steve Sisolak. 

“I never thought I’d be famous just for being alive,” Pipkins said. “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 a hold of you, it really tries to take you out.”

Since he tested negative for COVID-19 twice, he had been working with rehabilitation therapists. 

“My recovery has been really strong ... It’s all coming together and once I get to rehab, I know that I’ll pick up the pace,” Pipkins said. “I’m grateful I’m at the VA because the people here have waited on me hand and foot ... The staff here are very professional and I’m really proud of the service I’ve received here.”

Pipkins said to not take the virus lightly. "You will feel some very painful things happening to your body," he said. "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.’”

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

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