Sal's Story

CBS 11 photojournalist Sal Rios shares her personal struggle battling COVID-19.

Video Transcript

- Across the nation and across North Texas flags this week at half-staff, all to honor the half million Americans who we have lost in this COVID pandemic. Even today so many others still fighting to avoid adding to that staggering number. Our Robbie Owens tonight with more of one survivor's story, who happens to be a member of our CBS 11 family.

ROBBIE OWENS: Even with such a powerful visual, it is a struggle we know to not become numb to the number. Until, of course, the COVID heartache hits close to home.

SAL RIOS: I get emotional just thinking about it. Just glad to be here.

ROBBIE OWENS (VOICEOVER): For months, CBS 11 photojournalist Sal Rios had covered the COVID story, often working right alongside me.

ROBBIE OWENS: I know you were careful. I know you always wore your mask.

SAL RIOS: The thing about it, Robbie, was I didn't feel any symptoms right away.

ROBBIE OWENS (VOICEOVER): Within days, he was struggling to breathe and headed to the hospital.

SAL RIOS: The scary point of it is I'm going into the hospital and somebody who's passed away is coming out. And the light really went on and said oh, this is-- could be in trouble here.

MATILDA RIOS: You feel overwhelmed, and then you feel the frustration because the medical staff, they don't know, and all they can tell you is they don't know.

SAL RIOS: It's nothing like you see on-- on the news where you see the-- the patients, you know, and they're-- It's a lot scarier where we were at, because people are-- are, you know, screaming out loud in pain and moaning. And the person next to you, you don't know if he's going to make it or she's gonna-- he's gonna make it or not, and the doctors are flying in and out. And it's just not-- it's not at all what you see on TV the way it is in there. It's-- it's a lot scarier.

MATILDA RIOS: First of all, he was alone, and that was scary for, you know, both of us. You know, what is-- you know, what would I do if something were to happen and he's alone?

SAL RIOS: I didn't think I was going to make it. It got that bad. And I was pretty scared, and started to try to make peace of what was happening.

ROBBIE OWENS: Sal wanted to share his story, hoping to convince even one person to continue to take precautions, as the survivors' suffering should be avoided as well. We'll have more of his story tonight at 10:00. Robbie Owens, CBS 11 News.

- Yes, it does hit close to home.