Lincoln County man suffered through COVID, now pleading for others to get vaccine after not doing it himself


LINCOLN COUNTY, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – Rondal Lineberger admits that when it came to COVID-19, he played statistics. The chances of getting COVID, he felt, were relatively slim, and the chances of becoming sick or hospitalized, or even dying of it, even slimmer.

“I felt like they were blowing it out of proportion,” he said. “Like, it was only affecting people with previous health conditions and that, if you caught it, it was the same as the flu.”

But whatever he felt about the virus itself and the pandemic, Lineberger wound up testing positive for COVID-19 near the end of April.  Within days, he was in the hospital.

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“I got up (on a) Saturday morning, and when I was getting ready to go outside, I stumbled a little bit,” he said, relating the incident that led to an ambulance coming to his door. He said his wife went to test his blood oxygen level, which was low.

That ambulance ride led to him not seeing his home for 74 days. He said COVID, added with pneumonia, nearly killed him.

“It’s worse than what people think it is,” said Tracey Pauley, Lineberger’s cousin. “You have no idea what it is when you don’t know if you’re going to wake up to a phone call that your family’s dead.”

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Pauley, along with many family members, including Lineberger’s wife, stayed by his side as he recovered from the worst of it–ventilators, breathing tubes, feeding tubes.

“Right as I saw how bad he was, I got the vaccine,” said Pauley.

Lineberger said prior to getting COVID-19, he didn’t want to get the vaccine–something which was available to him when he became sick.  Lineberger’s hesitancy is something that many have been trying to address in the last several months.  In Lincoln County, where Lineberger is from, only 39% of people are fully vaccinated, with similar numbers in Gaston and Catawaba counties.

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Lineberger has since changed his mind about the vaccine.  He said he understands the current political nature and the hesitancy of people getting the vaccine, but he said, following his experience, he believes the vaccine is now a matter of life and death.

Lineberger lost 55 pounds and says, even after being out of the hospital for nearly a month, he’s only still around 50-60% back to normal.

But he said getting the shot, for him, is on the priority list.

“It would’ve been awesome compared to all the stuff I had to endure on my journey,” he said.


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