Roanoke County School Board chairman recovering after eight-day COVID-19 hospitalization

‘Trust me, you do not want this’

ROANOKE COUNTY, Va. – A local education leader is sharing his story after his battle with COVID-19 left him in the hospital for eight days.

Roanoke County School Board chairman Mike Wray said he contracted COVID-19 in a community setting, not at school. His eight-day hospitalization started on November 22.

Wray said at one point, his situation became serious.

“My oxygen levels dropped significantly, and the medical staff had to take action,” said Wray, in a statement released Tuesday. “While my condition never became life-threatening, I was in bad shape for a few days. I’m incredibly grateful to Dr. Price and the staff at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital for their care and helping me overcome this virus.”

School board member Don Butzer shared an update with the board Tuesday based on conversations he had with Wray.

“And he actually shared with me and he broke down a little bit and got me a little emotional that he didn’t know whether he was going to live or die,” Butzer said.

Wray said his firsthand experience with COVID-19 showed him the seriousness of the disease and further highlighted the need for the community to come together to fight it.

We need to take this pandemic seriously...We all must be serious and vigilant about wearing masks, being physically distanced and washing hands. Our schools are doing a great job of this. It’s time everyone in our community does the same thing,” said Wray.

“Trust me, you do not want this,” Wray added.

Leaders with Roanoke County Public Schools said they continue to encourage families to practice social distancing.

“He talked about the loneliness of being on the COVID19 ward, he talked about the isolation, no visitors, he shared with me that there were people dying on the ward and he knew that,” Butzer said.

Under the governor’s updated mask mandate, staff and students are required to wear masks at school.

The district’s cleaning and disinfecting program, according to school leaders, features “multiple levels” of cleaning with an anti-viral solution throughout the day. Schools are also deep cleaned weekly with electrostatic sprayers.

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