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Coronavirus widow left ‘starving’ for human interaction during quarantine, mayor says

11th deaths in Orange County mean 11 families who can’t plan funeral services, mourning in isolation

Employees deliver a body at Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The company is equipped to handle 40-60 cases at a time. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, it was taking care of 185 Thursday morning. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
Employees deliver a body at Daniel J. Schaefer Funeral Home, Thursday, April 2, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York. The company is equipped to handle 40-60 cases at a time. But amid the coronavirus pandemic, it was taking care of 185 Thursday morning. (AP Photo/John Minchillo) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

ORLANDO, Fla. – Every day, twice a day, for more than a month the Florida Department of Health releases the latest numbers of coronavirus cases, including fatalities. On Wednesday a somber Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings wanted to remind residents that those “numbers are people.”

Confronted with the reality that this is the new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic, officials in Orange County, and around the country are constantly providing updates on new cases and new ways to combat the virus but it’s important, Demings said, to remember what it means when the Florida DOH database updates.

Demings described his experience when he learned a member at his church had died of the virus. After the man died, his wife, who is in her early 80s, spent two weeks in quarantine by herself, the mayor said.

“As I thought about that, just what would that be like if I had to stay by myself after just having to deal with the fact that my long time spouse died,” Demings said.

The widow spoke to the mayor on the last day of her self-quarantine. She made a personal decision not to be tested because she didn’t want to take the test away from someone else who needed it and she wasn’t showing symptoms even after being exposed to her husband who died because of the virus.

“She was starving for just a human interaction, just a hug,” Demings said.

After the death of her partner, she wasn’t able to have a funeral service for him, the mayor explained.

“Sadly that’s a reality for at least 10 families in Orange County and thousands of others across the country,” Demings said.

With the latest update Wednesday evening there are 824 cases of coronavirus in Orange County, including 11 people who have died because of the respiratory illness. Meaning one more family, possibly in isolation, mourning a loved one.

To keep up with the latest news on the pandemic, subscribe to News 6′s coronavirus newsletter or go to ClickOrlando.com/coronavirus.


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