COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Nothing in Lee Foster’s 31 years of service as Newberry County sheriff prepared him for the battle he faced at the beginning of this year.
“The bad part about it is, if it’s a man with a gun, I can fight that guy, I was helpless,” said Sheriff Lee Foster.
In January Sheriff Foster tested positive for COVID-19 and would eventually spend 16 days in the hospital with severe symptoms.
“I could not walk 3-feet without complete exhaustion or without going into some kind of respiratory distress,” Foster explained.
Foster calling his fight in the COVID care unit one of his toughest personal battles.
“There was one point where I couldn’t breathe and they were trying to make the decision about going on a vent or moving me to an ICU that I was concerned for my life,” said Foster.
As his struggles with the virus reached their peak back in January, Foster says things took a positive turn.
“I had basically said, it’s in the lord’s hands,” he said. “I basically gave up and said let it be and somehow or another, prayers of all the people and my prayers were answered and I turned the corner.”
Foster says it was the medical staff at Newberry County Memorial Hospital that got him through.
“The nurses and the medical staff there, they became my family and they looked after me,” Foster added.
Now months later the long-time sheriff is still recovering and using oxygen. After his ordeal, Foster has a message for the Midlands.
“I’m a person that believes in choice. I’d never sit here and tell you or anyone else you gotta take the vaccine. That’s your choice, that’s a choice you make for yourself, that’s a choice you make for your family,” said Foster. “What I’m here to tell you is, if I was allowed to take the vaccine, I would have taken the vaccine and I would have taken my chance on the vaccine.”
Sheriff Foster says he is now working from home on a limited basis, and that he’s meeting with staff once a week.
He adds he believes it will be a few more weeks until he’s back on the streets.