KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knox County man who says he was diagnosed with the coronavirus is sharing a message with the community, hoping that people take this virus seriously.

More: Tracking Coronavirus

On Friday, WATE 6 On Your Side FaceTimed with Phillip Stokes, who says everything started around three weeks ago. Initially, Stokes thought he just had a stomach bug, but he says within 36 hours, his symptoms took a turn.

“You’re judging your breathing. Can I get enough oxygen? Can I breathe okay? Are other people getting it in my family,” explained Stokes.

Stokes is young and doesn’t have any underlying health issues, “And it’s been weeks now of just hell, quite frankly.”

Even though Stokes is not high-risk, he says he reached out to his doctor and they tested him for COVID-19.

“I mean, I know my body and sort of how I typically feel during things like the flu or a cold, so I already sort of knew. Definitely hearing that I had it, yeah, mentally it was just anxiety ramped up,” said Stokes.

Stokes says he and his family are quarantined for several more weeks and they’re not sure how they were exposed to the coronavirus, “Unfortunately, the reality is I could’ve gone to the store and walked through someone’s cough and gotten it. I have no real way of knowing.”

One thing Stokes does know is that he has a moderate case of COVID-19.

“It’s scary, I mean there were days last week, especially when things got really bad, minute by minute and hour by hour I wasn’t sure if I was going to be breathing okay,” he said.

Thankfully it never got to the point where Stokes had to be hospitalized and he says he’s feeling much much better.

But Stokes has a message to everyone in East Tennessee, “Take it seriously as something that’s a threat to you and your family. As hard as I tried to practice good hygiene and keeping my distance, I still got it and it wiped me out.”

The Knox County Health Department has a public information line if you have a question about COVID-19. You can call that hotline at (865) 215-5555 or toll-free at 888-288-6022. The information line operates 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the weekends.

You can also call the Tennessee Department of Health’s public information line at 877-857-2945 which operates 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week.