HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — Wash your hands, keep your distance, and stay home – advice Yariel Matute has subscribed to since his senior track season at UTRGV was cancelled.

“I’ve been extra careful like I don’t go out, I just recently started my grad program so I have a ton of homework, I’m always at home,” said Matute. “I go to the grocery store maybe once a week, I wear my mask, and I still was diagnosed with the virus.”

Despite his youth and his fitness level, Matute couldn’t outrun COVID-19. It all started with a cough and sore throat late in July.

“I was dealing with fevers, I would wake up at two, three in the morning, I was soaked in sweat.”

Yariel also lost his sense of taste and smell. Over two weeks later, he still deals with a lingering cough.

“Like I wake up middle of the night coughing, having a coughing attack.”

And at the height of his illness, the Rio Grande Valley was hit with the first hurricane of the season.

“I started getting sick the same weekend that Hurricane Hanna hit, so I was out of power for more than 12 hours.”

Luckily, he wasn’t relying on medical equipment during the outage, but the experience left a lasting impression.

“I think people are dismissing the fact at how much damage it can cause your immune system, and your body and your health later in life. My message to everyone is that we have to take this virus so much more seriously than we already are.”