TEMPLE, Texas — We may never truly know how very close we came to losing one of the world's most popular and enduring entertainers.
After weeks of conscientious mask-wearing and hand-washings "Little' Joe Hernandez, of "Little Joe Y La Familia" came down with a COVID infection in the early months of the pandemic, and has been very vocal about the need for us to protect ourselves ever since.
"My heartaches and troubles..." Little Joe Hernandez sings about heartaches and troubles, but says not a song in the world describes the troubles that COVID caused him and La Familia, his family and his fans worldwide.
He says the virus hit suddenly ... and hard.
"A fever, the shakes, I tried to hold a glass of water and just couldn't," said Hernandez. "I take ice packs to the back of my neck. You know and of course, you lose the appetite, but the fever was really just it makes you delirious."
Little Joe calls COVID deceiving at first, because his first symptoms seemed so mild.
"And I felt good. I'd like to get down to the yard and doing yard work and three, four days went by," said Hernandez. "And the fifth day I said well it's gonna be like the flu the can handle that. Yeah, I was like the flu plus, really bad to the point where my breathing got shorter and shorter by the third day I had a problem breathing."
A trip to the nearby emergency room, showed him what a problem COVID had become. Any other time, doctors would have likely admitted him ... but with the place busier than the Dallas airport at morning push, they handed him some medication and told him to rest at home.
On his return home, he looked at the hospital paperwork and realized ... he had pneumonia.
"I don't remember them telling me but then again I thought if they sent me to ICU I'm not getting out," he said.
After several days, he showed some improvement, but by then, the virus had found his wife, daughter and niece.
"And when the ambulance came to the to the house to pick her up," said Hernandez. "I felt bad because, you know, you can't go visit the hospital as a patient. And it really crossed my mind. This could be the last time I see my wife and I thought and I brought the COVID to her."
After all his success this man, loved and admired around world, offered to trade it all in to save La Familia.
"But gracias adios, thanks to God we survived" he said.
As his wife, daughter, and niece recovered, Little Joe kept going. If his prayers could help save La Familia in Temple he'd try to save his fans around the world.
He recorded a Facebook message to urge his greater "Familia" to get the only protection from COVID that doctors say, works.
"Based on a recent article published in The Lancet at the end of October that vaccinations do lessen the risk of a COVID infection but doesn't eliminate it completely. But when someone that's vaccinated gets COVID they clear the virus more quickly." Said Dr. Christy Reisinger, a family physician in Austin.
And they almost always survive. It's why Hernandez never misses a chance to mention COVID vaccinations at his shows.
"I wish I hope and pray and my shows always encourage people to get vaccinated you know there's so much untruth about the vaccine."
He's always stepped on stage to entertain but now Little Joe says he does it, to save lives.
For more medical information on COVID, check out Dr. Christy's YouTube Channel.
Little Joe and La Familia provide updated concert information and souvenir items via theLittle Joe Y La Familia website