There are more than 390,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, with the most serious patients needing a ventilator to breathe for them while their damaged lungs recover.
For many, it's both a life-changing and life-saving experience.
Shortly after testing positive for the coronavirus, Cleveland resident Nic Brown started to lose lung function and was intubated. Intubation is the process of inserting a tube through the mouth and then into the airway so a person can be placed on a ventilator to assist with breathing.
"I was actually in a medically-induced coma for three days and during that process, they put me on a ventilator, where I spent seven additional days," Brown said.
Brown told Inside Edition what the uncomfortable experience was like.
"It's a very large grouping of tubes that goes down your throat," he said. "In the beginning, it wasn't a horrible feeling, but as it progressed the tube got a little scratchy on the back of my throat and really irritated the back of my throat."
With the tubes in his mouth, Brown communicated mainly with facial expressions. He said it was an amazing feeling once he finally was able to breathe on his own.
"It was very moving. I cried," Brown said.
But the hardest part may be just beginning for some survivors once they're weened of the machines. Some will likely experience post-traumatic stress disorder long after leaving the ICU, said Dr. Zeke Emanuel.
"As we're learning, COVID patients are not responding as normal patients," Emanuel said. "It's a lot longer term process to get them off the ventilator."