BRIGHTON, Colo. — As the U.S. marked a grim milestone of surpassing 600,000 COVID-19 deaths, the Brighton police chief can't help but be taken back to his battle with the virus last year.
One experience can change your entire outlook on life, according to Brighton Police Chief Paul Southard.
"You get this new lease on life, and when you start thinking things are tough or when you start letting things get you down," he said. "I just remember where I was a year ago."
Last year, Southard battled COVID-19 for two weeks while sedated on a ventilator.
"The first thing I remember when they took me off the ventilator was people standing around me, and they were all wearing PPE, so I couldn't see their faces. I couldn't make anyone out; all I could see was their eyes looking back at me. It was confusing, to say the least, it was confusing. I didn't know who any of these people were, I didn't even really know where I was," Southard said.
He said while other parts of his body recovered, his mind was left with side effects that persisted for months.
"The hallucinations carried on until after I was off the ventilator," Southard said. "Making phone calls to my wife thinking I was in another state, thinking I was in a movie theater. I could go on and on about the different things I experienced."
Though the U.S. officially surpassed 600,000 deaths to COVID-19 this week, the federal Antiviral Program for Pandemics was also announced Thursday.
The $3.2 billion plan will support clinical trials and treatments for COVID-19 in hopes of gathering FDA approval for some antiviral treatments.
"Although we're past the mask mandates and things like that, there still needs to be concern and needs to be caution," Southard said. "Six hundred thousand people have died from this [COVID-19] in this country."