Georgia COVID-19 victim: 'I feel totally restored now'

Clay Bentley in his Rome bedroom. If he tests negative on March 31, he says doctors have told him he's immune from COVID-19.

He was one of the first in our state to put a face on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yet just one week after Clay Bentley struggled to talk to us from his hospital room, the Floyd County man is back home and well on his way to a full recovery.

Clay Bentley last week in his hospital room

“I feel better,” Bentley said from his upstairs bedroom in Rome. “I feel like I’m totally restored now.”

Bentley was admitted to Redmond Medical Center in Rome on March 6 after being turned away four days earlier because he didn’t fit the criteria for coronavirus. When doctors finally tested him, his lungs had begun to fill with fluid.

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 “I felt like I had a man laying on top of my chest and I couldn’t breathe,” he explained. “And the weight of this man was crushing me and I couldn’t breathe at all. And then all of a sudden I felt breath going into me. It was the Lord on top of my chest. When he breathed into me I felt the power of God hit me.”

He said doctors had considered putting him on a ventilator if he hadn’t made such a quick recovery.

Clay Bentley back home in Rome.

Earlier this week, he was discharged and sent home where he will be self-quarantined until the end of the month.

“If I test ok, if the coronavirus in my system is dead, then he said you’ll be immune to it,” Bentley said hopefully. “You can go back out in the world and be with your family. So that should happen in the next couple weeks.”

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Meanwhile, Bentley’s wife has been released from her own home quarantine. She was never tested. She has not developed the virus. She lives downstairs while Clay remains in his bedroom, collecting meals left for him at the door.

“I can’t be with my family,” he said. “I’m still locked in my room here at my house but you know I at least have the luxury of being at home.”

“If I test ok, if the coronavirus in my system is dead, then he said you’ll be immune to it."

— Clay Bentley, early GA coronavirus patient

Bentley believes he contracted COVID-19 after singing in the choir at the Church of Liberty Square in Cartersville. Other church members have also been hospitalized. One of them, 65-year-old Elizabeth Wells, died Wednesday. She sang in the choir, too.

“I’ve been grieving over her,” said Bentley. “I think she was standing next to me. We had choir practice on Wednesday night and she was standing next to me. Breaks my heart to know that other people in the church are sick and I can’t do anything. I stayed up nights just praying for them. I’m still praying for the ones who are still in the hospital. I’m just praying they get the same relief I got.”

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