A married couple who laughed at coronavirus warnings and ignored social distancing guidance say they’ve changed their tune after falling seriously ill with it.

Debi Patterson and her husband Michael, from Lake Havasu City in Arizona, didn’t wear masks and continued to hang out with friends as Covid-19 ravaged their home stage.

But they have since admitted they made a terrible mistake after falling so ill with the virus that Debi had to be admitted to hospital and put on oxygen.

Debi explained: ‘We were totally lacksidaisy about it.

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‘We didn’t have anybody here that we knew that had it so it was sort of almost like a joke among our group of friends…(we) paid the price for it.’

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Debi says she and Michael began developing mild symptoms of Covid-19, but brushed them off to enjoy a weekend by the pool. But they realized something was badly wrong when they both woke up one Monday at the end of June feeling seriously ill.

Debi said: ‘We both woke up and felt like a train had gone over both of us.’

She was taken to hospital and given oxygen, although did not have to go on a ventilator. Debi and Michael are now continuing to recover at home, although Debi – who was previously fit and healthy – still suffers from severe shortness of breath.

The couple have been humble and honest about the errors they made, and have shared their story to try and warn others off repeating their mistakes.

Debi said: ‘Be more careful…It’s ridiculous not to take this seriously. I could have died just like the next person. Anyone can.

‘It could have been either one of us or both of us.’

And Michael added, simply: ‘Wear a fricking mask.’

The couple live in a deeply conservative area of northwestern Arizona, where local gun shop owner Patrick Baugham is among many locals who still think coronavirus is overhyped.

Baugham orders any customers coming in to their shop to remove their masks before serving them, and claims the current US Covid-19 death toll of approximately 160,000 people has been greatly exaggerated.

He said: ‘We make any member or customer walking through our doors remove their face mask. That’s our pride.

‘Absolutely. You do not shop in my store with a mask on. Period.’

Discussing Covid-19 death rates, Baugham added: ‘There are so many cases of fraudulent claims with how they’re reporting numbers.’

Arizona is one of a number of US states that saw a surge in Covid-19 cases through June and July, although its numbers are dropping again. The state has recorded a total of 181,000 coronavirus diagnoses, and 3,850 deaths.

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