Patrick Ewing thought he had a simple cold for a few days in May. Worst case, maybe the flu. But the symptoms grew progressively worse when he checked in with the doctor. A novel coronavirus test for the Hall of Famer followed. Then the Georgetown men’s basketball coach was sent to the hospital for tests that confirmed he had the virus.

He was sent home to recover. Less than 24 hours later, he was on the way back to the hospital for what would turn out to be a five-day stay.

“It was scary, but I’m doing a lot better,” Ewing said. “It was hard to breathe. It was something that I don’t really like to dwell on. But I’m glad that I’m better now and just taking it a day at a time and keep moving one step forward.”

There is a perception worldwide that the United States has failed in its coronavirus response as states such as Florida, Texas and California have seen new case numbers rise in recent days. Communities across the country have reopened for business, and wearing a mask has become a politicized flash point. The nation’s struggle has been a big reason Ewing, 57, has been willing to share the details of his struggle with covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

“That’s why I put the message out,” he said. “No matter who you are or how invincible you think you are, it’s like carbon monoxide: odorless, tasteless. … You can’t taste it, you can’t see it, but it can kill you. This is the same here. The thing is, I’ve been doing all the things they tell you — wear a mask, social distancing [from] people. I was doing all of those things, and I still got sick.”

Ewing said he is symptom-free and has turned his attention back to his team and the rest of the world. The District has moved into Phase 2, which allows universities to reopen for the fall semester with approved plans, but Georgetown has yet to announce its intentions. So Ewing has been conducting video conferences with his team without any date for the group to reunite. He said he has spent a significant portion of those discussions on social justice as the protest movement has gained momentum after George Floyd’s death while in Minneapolis police custody.

Ewing talked to his players about being safe, the importance of voting and, among other things, how the census affects minority communities.

“Just trying to educate them and bring things to light,” Ewing said. “Trying to make sure they continue to understand what’s going on and fight for their rights. They’re free to do it. That’s what America is supposed to be all about. You have the right to protest. You have the right to fight for your rights. That’s what college is all about, learning and giving people the knowledge to be able to stand up for themselves. I’m not going to stop them from fighting for the things they believe in, because that’s what America’s supposed to be all about.”

It hasn’t been the easiest seven months for Ewing. With a loss in the Big East tournament, the Hoyas finished 15-17, handing Ewing his first losing season since taking over his alma mater in 2017. Five players have transferred since December, including leading scorer Mac McClung to Texas Tech.

“That’s just the way college sports is,” Ewing said. “There’s nothing to learn [from the situation]. Mac was an integral part of our team. We’re disappointed that he decided to leave. Wish him the best except for when and if we play them. But that’s it. …

“There were over 900 kids that were in the transfer portal. Usually kids leave when they’re not getting a lot of minutes. If you look at this year, it’s totally different. A lot of people were leaving that were getting a lot of minutes and a lot of time. … I have no hard feeling toward him.”