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'You're gasping for air you can't get': COVID-19 survivor explains what fighting the virus is like

He was under sedation while doctors put him on a ventilator to help him breathe. He woke up a few days later in the unit for COVID-19 patients.

LAKELAND, Fla. — The number of people hospitalized for coronavirus in Florida continues to rise, but those numbers aren't just data. They're people inside the hospital fighting the virus.

"When you hear that alarm go off and all of a sudden everybody's running down the hallway, you understand what's going on. You know what's happening," 58-year-old Vito Di Cantante told 10 Tampa Bay.

He was inside the ER at Lakeland Regional Hospital for two weeks after testing positive for COVID-19.

"There are people just feet away from me that I hear in the middle of the night gasping for breath. There's alarms going off all night long that I hear for people who can't breathe because of this disease," Di Cantante said.

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He was under sedation while doctors put him on a ventilator to help him breathe. He woke up a few days later in the unit for COVID-19 patients.

Shortly after he got on Facebook Live and tried to explain what it felt like to have coronavirus.

"Imagine if you're drowning in your own body. That's what it feels like. You can't breathe and it's scary as h***. To have that that oxygen mask on your face constantly is something that I really don't ever want to experience again," Di Cantante said.

From his hospital bed, the 58-year-old pleaded with people to please wear a mask.

"I don't know exactly where I got this and at this point that really doesn't matter. What matters is that we stop this thing and you dampen the curve and you wear your mask," Di Cantante said.

Now that he's out of the hospital in isolation at home, he's a COVID-19 survivor. He hopes people will do anything they can to help stop the spread.

"That wearing the mask is not about you being saved. Wearing the mask is about you saving other people. If you're around someone without a mask, you're guaranteeing that you're not going to get them sick," Di Cantante said.

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