By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A long-time community activist and organizer is speaking out from his hospital bed about the importance of getting vaccinated.

Mel Reeves has been in the hospital these past two weeks.

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He shared his story with WCCO-TV’s Reg Chapman in hopes that his community takes the virus seriously and gets protected.

“You know I was in a fight for my life here,” said Reeves.

Since 1981, Reeves’ justice-oriented work has seen him fight for police accountability, education reform and social justice. His latest battle has been against a virus, which he says almost claimed his life.

“The viral load was just rushing, it just shut down my lungs, “Reeves said.

A positive COVID home test sent Reeves to the ER. There, doctors admitted him and gave him drugs to help reduce his viral load.

After three days in the hospital he was sent home, but the virus was not done with him.

“I couldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep and then I fainted. I just had just enough breath pretty much, to get downstairs and get an Uber to the hospital. When I got out of the car I was sucking breath, I was sucking breath when I literally was walking and every breath was pretty much feeling like my last,” Reeves said.

Reeves not only had COVID – he had pneumonia, his lungs inflamed from the infection. He says he wore his mask and social distanced.

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“The only thing I didn’t do was to get a vaccination but it’s because I was still trying to figure out which one that wouldn’t have the side effect that would wind up hurt me,” Reeves said.

Reeves says an issue with blood clots prevented him from getting vaccinated. But doctors now believe he can take Moderna’s vaccine.

“This thing is serious. Folks got to take this serious, people are literally dying,” said Reeves.

He gets the concerns some Black people have about the vaccine.

“I get it because of our history medically in this country, but we have people of color you know who helped develop some of these vaccines, “ Reeves said.

His message is simple.

“People should get vaccinated, wear your mask, social distance if you are going out to party even among friends and family just wear your mask, it doesn’t hurt anything,” Reeves said.

Reeves says the emails and phone messages from community members gave him the will to fight to live.

He hopes they keep supporting others who are struggling with COVID and make sure they get vaccinated.

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Reg Chapman