- Anti-science rhetoric and politics have led to many people believing the coronavirus isn’t a real threat.
- Other people have taken the stance that living their lives is worth the risk after spending the better part of a year isolated.
- After their deaths from COVID-related complications, their families and healthcare providers are begging others not to make the same mistakes.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Like many Americans, the slog of spending the better part of a year isolated at home got to Leslie and Patricia McWaters of Jackson, Michigan.
The couple â€” she a 78-year-old nurse and he a 75-year-old truck driver â€” decided to go out to eat. People weren’t wearing masks and the pair mingled among the tables, the Washington Post reported.
Soon after, the McWaters came down with COVID-19 and, on November 24, they died. They had two daughters, three grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren together.
One daughter, Joanna Sisk, told the Post her parents had taken the stance, “I want to get out and live my life, and if I get COVID, so be it.”
“But I can tell you after they got COVID, they were both extremely regretful because they didn’t really take their own words to heart that it would actually take their lives,” she said.
Stories like the McWaters are common: Some people let down their guards after months suffering from quarantine fatigue, while others never had their guard up in the first place after being led to believe the coronavirus isn’t a real threat, or a real threat anymore.
Here are six other victims’ stories.
An Arizona man died after he trusted that reopenings meant safety
When an Arizona man died of coronavirus June 30, his daughter nearly called the death a murder in his obituary, where she blamed local and federal politicians for opening up before it was safe.
Powerful obituary in today’s AZ Republic. Regular people are starting to boil over pic.twitter.com/fNdL1bCDh2
— Bill Scheel (@billyscheel) July 9, 2020
Mark Urquiza, who was 65, mostly only left the house to do his essential job in manufacturing while stay-at-home orders were in place, his daughter, Kristin Urquiza, told the Washington Post.
But when the state reopened and Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and the Trump administration encouraged people to take advantage of it, Urquiza listened, and began meeting up with friends. He got sick with COVID-19 for three weeks before passing away.
“Despite all of the effort that I had made to try to keep my parents safe, I couldn’t compete with the governor’s office and I couldn’t compete with the Trump administration,” Kristin Urquiza told the Post.
Syon Bhanot, a behavioural and public economist at Swarthmore College, told Business Insider actions like Mark Urquiza’s are understandable. “The logical person would think … ‘Hey, they’re reopening â€” it must be safer.’ How else could you reasonably interpret that?” he said.
“So you’re getting totally ambiguous [information,] where the data saying one thing and the public narrative is saying another thing,” he added. “The public narrative is always going to beat the data in terms of an emotional response.”
An Ohio man died after posting on Facebook that he wasn’t going to “buy into that damn hype” and wear a mask
Richard Rose, a 37-year-old Ohio man, died July 3 â€” just two days after testing positive for COVID-19, according to a local outlet.
Throughout the prior months, Rose was vocal on Facebook about what he called “that damn hype” of mask wearing, and frequently checked in at bars and restaurants throughout the state. Once he developed symptoms, he wrote about them, too, saying he could barely breathe just sitting.
“We were blown away, you know? You hear about this virus and you don’t expect it to affect people, younger people like ourselves,” said Nick Conley, Rose’s friend, told Cleveland 19 News.
“It’s horrible that we lost Rick but the even more tragic part of that is who else became infected because of the actions that he chose,” Conley added.
This is actually really really sad pic.twitter.com/S2VpEs5nl8
— Unicorn Hunter Phobic (@kat_blaque) July 11, 2020
A 30-year-old man in Texas died after attending a “COVID party”
A 30-year-old man died in Texas after attending a “COVID party,” his doctor said.
“This is a party held by somebody diagnosed by the COVID virus, and the thought is to see if the virus is real and to see if anyone gets infected,” Dr. Jane Appleby, the chief medical officer for Methodist Hospital and Methodist Children’s Hospital, told the local outlet News4.
Appleby said that the patient admitted regret right before dying, telling a nurse, “I think I made a mistake â€” I thought this was a hoax, but it’s not.”
She and others are urging people not to make the same mistake.
“It doesn’t discriminate and none of us are invincible,” Appleby said. “I don’t want to be an alarmist, and we’re just trying to share some real-world examples to help our community realise that this virus is very serious and can spread easily.”
A California man died a day after saying he regretted attending a party
Thomas Macias, a 51-year-old California man, went to a party in early June, tested positive for coronavirus June 18, and died June 20 after being put on a ventilator.
His brother-in-law told NBC that while Marcias knew a fellow party attendee had tested positive for the coronavirus, they didn’t think it would spread since they were not showing symptoms.
The day before his death, Macias expressed regret on Facebook, according to NBC. “Because of my stupidity I put my mum and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy,” he wrote. “This has been a very painful experience.”
“This is no joke,” he added. “If you have to go out wear a mask and practice social distancing. Don’t be a —-ing idiot like me.”
A California man posted his regret on Facebook about contracting the coronavirus after attending a party in June. A day later, he died from COVID-19. https://t.co/MgJU6gxUfN
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 2, 2020
A 66-year-old pastor died after celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Virginia Pastor Landon Spradlin, who was 66, drove to New Orleans to preach and celebrate Mardi Gras with his wife and daughters,the BBC reported.
The coronavirus wasn’t on their minds; Spradlin believed it was an overreaction driven by the media in an election year, his son told the outlet.
Even after experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, Spradlin posted about the “hysteria” around the virus.
Spradlin and his wife stayed in New Orleans until mid-March when his symptoms became too serious. They didn’t make it home to Virginia, stopping at a North Carolina hospital, where he died after eight days in intensive care.
“There’s still so much on the news that is agenda driven, even though people are passing away,” his daughter Jesse Spradlin told the BBC. “This is affecting our country, and unless we start acting like one nation we are not truly going to find a solution. But for that to happen, a certain amount of humility is needed.”
An Alabama man who refused to wear a mask died less than three hours after calling an ambulance for himself
Joe Hinton, a 78-year-old man in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, didn’t believe in wearing a mask.
“He thought, like a lot of people, that it was being blown out of proportion,” his daughter, Amy Hinton, told the local ABC station. “He was like I’m not going to stop living my life, no matter what we did or said or begged him.”
Hinton tested positive for coronavirus June 18. On June 22, he called an ambulance and died less than three hours later.
Amy Hinton and her family are urging people to learn from their dad’s experience and wear a mask. “I don’t understand why it’s so inconvenient to wear a mask, if we know that can help stop the spread,” Hinton told ABC. “If you’re so against it, just don’t go anywhere.”