WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – North Carolina reported its first COVID-19 related death one year ago, on March 25, 2020.
Even as more North Carolinians are becoming vaccinated, those who lost loved ones are urging caution.
Huberta Sasser’s son, Jeremy Larson, 42, of Wilmington, died on March 16 from complications of COVID-19.
“It was a very big shock,” Sasser said. “I never knew the day I dropped him off on March 1 at the hospital that I would never see him again. It’s just a tragedy.”
Larson was a father of three, who worked at Port City Pest Control.
“He was a very caring person,” said Hunter Larson, 15. “He would do anything he could for people and he was very loyal to the people he cared about and to the churches he went to and all around a great person and great father.”
Sasser said her son was the first in the family to get sick. Then, she and Larson’s children tested positive too. They recovered; however, the virus quickly took its toll on Larson and it wasn’t long before he had to go on a ventilator.
“It was my decision to take him off the machines,” his son said.
“We all had to decide to do that and I remember Hunter called me and said ‘I just don’t want him to suffer anymore.’” Sasser explained.
The family held funeral services for Larson last week, which were streamed on Facebook because of the pandemic.
As the family grapples with their loss, they don’t want other families to feel this grief.
“I just want people to realize it doesn’t matter what age or how healthy you are, it doesn’t,” said Hunter. “You can get it at any time and just don’t just don’t let your guard down.”
That’s the same message Carolann Cotton had when we first interviewed her back in November.
The Tabor City woman spent a week in the hospital, fighting COVID 19.
“I couldn’t catch my breath,” she said. “I was having really bad chest pains and it scared me because they came in and they did a heart ultrasound, they were doing EKGs and they ended up giving me morphine and that was the first time in my entire life that I’ve ever had that. I couldn’t go to sleep on it because I honestly was terrified that I wasn’t going to wake up but the next day it was a complete difference.”
A diabetic who also has asthma, Cotton feared she would be a “long hauler.”
“It was rough probably for about a month after,” she said. “I was really sore, but it gradually lessened and lessened a lot. The only thing that I experience now as I still get chest pains.”
Her battle with COVID encouraged her to focus on getting healthy.
She goes to the gym regularly and lost 15 pounds so far.
Dr. David Schmitz from Novant Health Oceanside Family Medicine said the vaccine gives him reason to be optimistic and he urges everyone to get it.
“Now is the time for hope and healing,” he said. We will get back to what we considered normal before.”
However, until more people are vaccinated, doctors, survivors and those who lost loved ones recommend staying vigilant.
“We don’t want this to be in vain,” said Sasser about her son’s death. “We want to get that word out that this is still something very serious.”
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