Louis Gossett, Jr. can tell you how bad COVID is ... he has it, was hospitalized for it, but left because it's a s*** show inside.
Sources connected to the Oscar-winning actor tell TMZ ... the 84-year-old tested positive and was so sick he couldn't even stand. He was taken to a Georgia-area hospital, where he stayed for just a couple days before bolting. We're told he was put in an area with all the other COVID patients, and the wave of deaths freaked him out.
Hospital staff begged him to stay -- given his age and underlying conditions including cancer -- but Louis was determined to leave, and he did. He checked out Tuesday.
Louis -- best known his award-winning roles in "An Officer and a Gentleman" and on "Roots" -- tells TMZ and everyone else, "Please wear masks, social distance, isolate, pray and listen within. We cannot survive without one another."
Louis is now at home with his son ... and he is isolating.
He's recovering at home now, but he's not out of the woods by a long shot. His friends and family are asking for personal messages of healing and love #LoveLettertToLou.