Gretchen is a Columbia resident who recently lost her grandfather to COVID-19. He lived in Independence, Missouri and after having a stroke a year prior was moved into a nursing home. He was a healthy eighty-year-old and was doing well in the nursing home when COVID-19 hit his community through a staff member. Sadly, he contracted COVID-19 on a Thursday and by that Sunday, he had passed.
“He was my last grandparent”, Gretchen shares, “it all just happened so fast”. Gretchen says her grandfather has many grandchildren and family members that love and miss him dearly. After this tragedy, the family was left to decide how best to celebrate and honor his life. Gretchen says there was disagreement on how best to go about this and she and her brother asked the family to hold off on an in-person funeral but were outnumbered and an in-person funeral was held. Gretchen did not feel it was safe to travel to Kansas City for the funeral and therefore had to miss it. She shares that it was extremely painful to miss this experience but felt it was the right choice for her.
Gretchen is frustrated at how the state has handled the COVID-19 response and believes simple actions could have been taken to reduce the death toll in Missouri. Gretchen suggests that a state-wide mask mandate and longer stay at home order could have prevented many deaths in Missouri. For example, if bars and restaurants would have been closed, it would have reduced the likelihood of nursing home staff contracting COVID-19 and bringing it to their patients. Of course, there is no certain way to know how her grandfather contracted COVID-19 but state-wide mandates could have lessened the possibility of it being spread so easily. In Gretchen’s hometown, the COVID-19 cases are sky rocketing as the college opens up and many of the impacted people are young adults. Gretchen wants people to know this is not simply a virus that impacts older people and that we are all impacted and interconnected.
Like many Missourians, Gretchen understands that Missourians want to work and are in a position where they have no choice but to work. Gretchen is disappointed in the lack of economic support people have received during this pandemic and she believes people need more stimulus money so they can stay home and we can flatten the curve. As she says, “you can’t work if you’re dead. I just want people to have the ability to stay home. I don’t want to lose any more family, I don’t want to lose anyone I love”.