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Malvern self-defense instructor calls COVID-19 'nightmare'

"Take it seriously, this is not a hoax, it's not a joke," Paul Walter, a self-defense instructor from Malvern said.

MALVERN, Ark. — There's a loud voice in Arkansas which says, "not me." 

"COVID19 won't impact me. I won't get it and even if I do, I'll be fine. It's only elderly folks or people with compromised immune systems."

Well, that is exactly what one Malvern man thought until earlier this month when he tested positive for coronavirus.

"I had the same mindset, it won't touch me, I won't get sick with this," 40-year-old Paul Walter said.

Walter is an otherwise healthy man with no health conditions. In fact, he's a self-defense instructor.

RELATED: Dardanelle woman who dedicated life to helping elderly dies from COVID-19

His employer tested all workers in late June, and on July 3, his test came back positive before he ever had symptoms. He was stunned.

But when the symptoms hit— the shortness of breath, headache, a cough, and a migraine—it was, he says, a nightmare.

Still, three weeks later, he requires oxygen to breathe at home. 

Walter still can't get above 90 on his pulse oximeter for any length of time, a condition his doctor says would typically require hospitalization. 

Instead, he's home with O2 and many residual symptoms. 

He wants people to understand his situation, so they'll know it's real.

"Take it seriously, this is not a hoax, it's not a joke," Walter said.

RELATED: Arkansas teachers express concern of returning to school as COVID-19 cases rise

"For the sake of others, your family and yourself, when they say don't go out— stay home, social distance, wear a mask, wear gloves if you have to."

On week 3 now, Walter has no idea where the end is, and no understanding of how he got so sick while others have no symptoms.

He still has migraines daily, a cough, and chest tightness.

Let his story, he says, be an example of why we all take action to protect ourselves and others.