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A former Charlotte, N.C. news reporter is counting his blessing after surviving a horrific battle with COVID-19.

Will Jones, a UNC Greensboro graduate who spent time at WCNC-TV in the mid-90’s, recently told his story of overcoming the virus and warned those who believe the pandemic is a “hoax.” His message is simple, but clear: “put your armor on.”

Jones wasn’t sure how he contracted the virus, but it hit him harder than anything he had felt before.

“On January 4th, I was great,” Jones recalled in an interview with Rocky Mountain PBS. “On January 5th, I was miserable. And on January 10th, I thought I was going to die.”

Jones was working at home in Denver, Colorado on January 5th when he told his wife he believed he was coming down with COVID. The shock of possibly having the virus wore off after realizing he was running a fever of 106.3 degrees.

“I was afraid to go to sleep,” said Jones. “I had a blood oxygen monitor on my finger and my blood oxygen level kept dropping below 90. And I was afraid that if I went to sleep, I wasn’t going to wake up. Because the only time I could get my blood oxygen up was if I took deep breaths.”

From that point on, Jones knew he was fighting for his life.

With his wife, Jan, by his side, Will continued to fight through the pain inflicted on his body by the virus, not knowing if he would take his last breaths while laying in a hospital bed. A surreal feeling that not many people have lived to tell about throughout the pandemic.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist worked up enough strength to capture a picture while confined to a hospital bed. A moment he thought would be one of his last and something that he’ll reflect on for the rest of his life.

“At one point, I took a picture. Because I thought it was going to be the last picture of me,” Jones said. “And I wanted to make sure that my wife and 8-year-old granddaughter had that.”

He wants everyone to learn from his experience and stresses the need to treat this global health crisis like a war. One that can improve by getting protected against the virus immediately.

“All people need armor right now,” said Jones. “We are in a battle and the only armor that I have found thus far is this vaccine. I wish I had armor before COVID got me. I’m glad that I have armor now that I’ve gone through one battle with COVID, because I don’t want to go through again.”

Jones is now advocating people across the country to get vaccinated against the virus. Especially with the death toll continuing to decline as more people receive their first dose of the vaccine.

“If you have something to lose. If you have people that love you —put the armor on,” Jones said “For anyone who thinks that it’s not real, if you see me, talk to me. I will tell you just how real it is.”

He went on to say he was “grateful” to be a survivor of COVID-19’s wrath and became one of the 60 million Americans to be fully vaccinated on March 20.

Jones has retired from television and is now the Director of Media Relations for Denver Public Schools. He still has many friends and family in the Tar Heel State and never misses an opportunity to come home.