After battling breakthrough COVID infection, Mechanicsville man urges vaccinations

'Line Dance King of RVA' home from the hospital after battling breakthrough COVID infection
Posted at 10:50 PM, Aug 28, 2021

HANOVER, Va. -- A fully vaccinated Mechanicsville man who spent more than a week in the hospital battling a breakthrough COVID infection is urging those who haven't been vaccinated to do so.

"If there’s a choice between the vaccination or COVID, by God get the vaccination," said Kemel Patton.

Many may know Patton as the 'Line Dance King of RVA.' Despite living with Multiple Sclerosis since 1995 and congestive heart failure, Patton regularly hosts events across the city.

"I’ve probably created over 50 line dance songs that people do in the Richmond community," said Patton.

For years now, Patton hasn't let his health conditions get in the way of his passion for dance. But on August 13, Patton says his health took a turn for the worse.

"I was sitting in my car and I had just parked my car and I was talking to a friend of mine on the phone and I felt faint," said Patton.

He collapsed, his defibrillator jolting in his chest. Patton said he was taken to the hospital for what doctors thought was dehydration.

"But then that Saturday when they were getting ready to release me they said, 'no you have a fever.' Then they were like, 'we need to do a rapid test,' and then they realized that, 'no you have COVID,'" Patton said.

Despite being fully vaccinated, Patton was hospitalized with coronavirus and was put on oxygen. Despite his scary encounter, he believes that it could have been much worse.

"I would hate to think that because I didn’t get a vaccination that I could’ve passed away," he said.

Dr. Michael Stevens, Interim Hospital Epidemiologist for VCU Health said while breakthrough COVID infections are still rare, they were seeing an uptick in cases coming into the hospital.

"It's a phenomenon that’s paralleling this massive increase in delta infections," said Dr. Stevens

But he added that even in those cases, the vaccine still offered protection

"The people who end up really sick in the ICU on the ventilator needing that level of support largely are folks that couldn’t amount an immune response to the vaccines or they’re unvaccinated. So, we’re still seeing in people that are admitted the benefit from the vaccines," Dr. Stevens said.

Dr. Melissa Viray, Deputy Director for the Richmond City and Henrico Health District, said as more people got the vaccine, it would help to protect vulnerable people like Patton.

"The risk actually goes down the more people we have vaccinated because the more people we have immune, the less risk that an individual like him would have," said Dr. Viray.

"You don't want this. You do not want this," said Patton.

He was back on his feet for the first time Wednesday, even demonstrating a line dance for CBS 6.

"I can’t question where I got it from, I don't know, I just know that you still have to be diligent and careful because it's not going away anytime soon," Patton said.

He added that he was grateful for each moment and taking his time before getting back in the swing of things.

"It makes you appreciate life to a whole greater extent," Patton said.

Patton said he was grateful for the help of his friends and family, who he said helped him get through.

"I would like to give a special thanks to Sandy Bee, Debbie, and Sherry," Patton said.

A GoFundMe page was set up to help Patton amid his recovery.