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Knox Co. school bus driver returns home after nearly three weeks fighting COVID-19 in the hospital

Richard "Richie" Honeycutt is a local pastor, school bus driver, husband, and papa. He fought COVID-19 for nearly three weeks at UT Medical Center.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — Update 9/17:

On Thursday, Richie and Beverly Honeycutt reunited for good after nearly three weeks apart. Richie had been battling COVID-19 at the University of Tennessee Medical Center.

"Two days ago he turned a huge corner and came home [Thursday] with NO oxygen," Beverly Honeycutt wrote to 10News. "Doctors, nurses at UT Medical Center, and A LOT of praying did this!"

Original Story:

After nearly 30 years of marriage, Beverly and Richie Honeycutt are inseparable. They're used to doing everything together. 

"We are very close," Beverly said. "That's our life — just being together."

When they first caught COVID-19, they helped each other out at their West Knoxville home. 

Then, Richie's oxygen dropped suddenly. Beverly immediately called an ambulance to come to get him.

"It just attacked his lungs so quickly, that it was just out of control," Beverly said. "It has been very, very hard to be without him."

For 16 days, Richie has battled the virus alone at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, first in the intensive care unit and now in a regular room.

Beverly rallied prayers from across the nation for her husband, who is a school bus driver and pastor.

"Eight states, tons of pastors, preachers, families, associations everywhere, were praying for him," she said. "We just wanted the Lord to just touch his lungs to not have to go on that vent."

Credit: WBIR

Richie's oxygen levels improved enough that he did not require the help of a ventilator. They believe he caught COVID-19 from driving kids on his school bus.

"They don't want to stay in their seat because they want to be right up there with him," Beverly said. "I mean, those kids just love him. He is a great bus driver."

Richie's doctors told Beverly he's making a slow recovery. This week, he'll start physical therapy. She cannot wait until she is able to visit him.

"I'm just going to hug him. I'm going to kiss him," she said. "I've already told him a million times how much I love him, but I'm going to keep doing that."

In the meantime, she's hoping others will take Richie's fight as a reminder.

"It's a very real disease. It's a very real pandemic that we are dealing with," Beverly said. "It's not gone and we really probably need to get back to the same precautions we were taking a year ago."