By Tori Mason

DENVER (CBS4) – There are currently 1,665 Coloradans spending Thanksgiving in the hospital due to COVID-19. More than 260,000 people were missing from tables across the country Thursday because they succumbed to the virus.

(credit: CBS)

Adam Abitia is still recovering after being diagnosed with COVID-19 in April. He and his family weren’t sure if he’d make it to the holidays.

“I am on oxygen, as you can see, and I’ve got a long way to go,” said Abitia. “I am thankful to be alive. I went through a tough time with COVID. It was a struggle and it’s still a struggle.”

The CDC and local health officials pleaded for people not to gather or travel this Thanksgiving, so more hospital beds don’t become occupied in the weeks ahead. Abitia wanted to share his COVID story to give hope to patients and their families.

“I had two collapsed lungs. I was on a ventilator. I was in an induced coma for a few months. When I came through, I had to learn how to walk, how to stand, how to talk, how to eat,” said Abitia. “Pray. Just pray. Keep faith.”

(credit: Adam Abitia)

The loneliness Abitia experienced when he came out of the coma has him thinking about all the patients hospitalized on Thanksgiving. When he was admitted, Abitia said he’d always keep the lights and the TV on to alleviate the solitude.

“I pray for them every day. I want to give their families hope and wish them health. I know it’s a tough time for a lot of people. I’ve been through it. I understand it I know what it’s like,” said Abitia.

His brother, Jason, helped Abitia fill the gaps in his memory that went missing while he was unconscious in the hospital. During that time, he visited his brother the only way he could – standing outside his hospital window.

“Please take this seriously. Please. I would wish and hope that everyone can understand the complexity that this virus can create,” said Jason.

The Abitia brothers are most thankful for the healthcare workers, spending Thanksgiving away from family, so patients like Adam can go home to their own.

(credit: Adam Abitia)

“There is light at the tunnel if we all work together, stick together, to beat this virus,” said Abitia.

If you chose to travel, you’re advised to quarantine for two weeks when you return and get tested for COVID-19.

Tori Mason