Imagine losing your memory, going through organ failure and having to learn to walk again. This is what R&B hit-maker Jeremih, aka Jeremy Phillip Felton, went through during a recent severe battle with covid-19.
Jeremih was hospitalized on Nov. 14 after testing positive for covid-19. Things took a turn for the worse, he said in a Dec. 15 joint interview with Chance the Rapper on “Sway’s Universe” podcast. The duo was promoting their latest “Merry Christmas Little Mama” collaboration. Jeremih said he was “living, walking testimony” about the covid crisis.
“I was really down bad for the last month-and-a-half that I was in there,” the 33-year-old singer said of his hospitalization at Chicago’s Northwestern Hospital. “I don’t even remember the day I went in there, that’s how messed up I was.”
The singer-songwriter-rapper-producer signed to Def Jam Recordings in 2009. His “Birthday Sex” debut single rose to No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100. The subsequent self-titled album rose to No. 5 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. He went on to have two other top 10 hits with “Down on Me” and “Don’t Tell ‘Em.”
Gwenda Starling, Jeremih’s mother, was initially blocked by the hospital from seeing him due to covid restrictions. She was finally allowed to see him after fellow Chicago artist Chance the Rapper stepped in, Vibe reported. Jeremih, however, says he doesn’t remember anything that happened in the ICU. Starling showed him photos.
“I had a tube down my throat for about a week-and-a-half. I was really like in a dream. I woke up two times and all I remember seeing is a white light.”
Jeremih developed multiple inflammatory syndrome a “rare cause and effect” of the disease, he said. “All my organs became inflamed. My heart started beating irregularly, my kidneys went out, my liver started to go bad. Mind you, I didn’t know what was going on at the time. I was out.
“Once I was removed from ICU after that week-and-a-half I was going through recovery where I had to learn how to walk again, eat, all that stuff.”
He was released from the hospital on Dec. 5. This is the first time the artist ever went to a hospital — “not for a broken bone, not for nothing,” he said. “So just to be in there I look at it as a blessing. As crazy as it might sound, I needed to sit down. I needed to take a break.”
Jeremih’s covid battle found a lot of sympathy on Twitter.
One user posted, “Yup, some people are left crippled for life and long term damage, this virus is so wild and unpredictable with no symptoms to mild to death, even causing strokes and heart damage, some have lost limbs”
Another said Jeremih’s story made them pro-vaccine: “Yeah… I’m gettin the vaccine.”
But some on Twitter accused Jeremih of not following covid-19 safety precautions after he recovered from the virus. He was photographed getting a haircut without wearing a mask: “yet right after the hospital he went to go get a haircut with not mask on… clearly he ain’t learn the first time”.
Covid-19 it has impacted Black America disportionately. Black people are 3.7 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2.8 times more likely to die from the virus, according to Nov. 30 data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
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During Jeremih’s bout with the virus, his representatives spoke of the extremeness of his case.
“The covid-19 condition he’s experiencing is rare for a young man his age without underlying conditions,” a spokesperson for the artist said in a statement to Deadline. “There’s no shame in contracting covid-19, and people that have it need to be responsible and considerate of others. Everyone diagnosed with covid-19 is affected differently. Unfortunately for Jeremih, covid-19 viciously attacked his body.”
“This is what surviving Covid sometimes looks like, not worth taking the chance,” a Twitter user posted in response to Jeremih’s story.