'Tell all of our family to get vaccinated': COVID kills 6 members of Florida family in 3 weeks

Lillie Mae Dukes Moreland was one of six members of a Glades family who contracted the coronavirus and died of COVID-19 in the summer of 2021.
For months, Lisa Wilson went door-to-door in Belle Glade, Florida trying to convince people to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Wilson, a longtime associate of Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, persuaded pastors to preach about the need for syringes. Her husband, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, was one of the first in the western farming community to roll up their sleeves in the hope that others would follow suit.
But despite Wilson's insistence that the shooting would save lives, some members of her own family ignored them.
Six of them have died as a result of COVID-19 in the past three weeks.
“I was in her ears almost every day. 'You just have to do this,' "said Wilson on Tuesday, staggering from the tragedy that consumed her family." I'm beating myself up. Should I have pushed harder? "
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First uncle, then grandmother, then cousins
The nightmare began in late August when her 48-year-old uncle Tyrone Moreland died.
The day after the family gathered for his funeral, their 89-year-old grandmother, Lillie Mae Dukes Moreland, was hospitalized. The longtime fixer in Belle Glade, who had nine children and also raised Wilson, died 24 hours later.
Three more cousins ​​followed in quick succession, including 48-year-old Shatara Dukes and 53-year-old Lisa Wiggins.
Lisa Wilson's family lost six members to COVID-19 in three weeks in the summer of 2021.
On Sunday, 44-year-old Trentarian Moreland, who served for years as an assistant soccer coach at various high schools in Palm Beach County, died of the deadly virus.
Wilson suspects that her uncle and Shatara Dukes, who had the same birthday, caught the virus in a pantry where they both worked.
But there doesn't seem to be any connection between the others, she said.
Family members who recently visited their grandmother were tested. The results were all negative. But, she said, her grandmother was known to invite neighbors out on her porch and into her house to chat.
"We just don't know," said Wilson.
Wilson is also amazed why her family members so steadfastly refused to be vaccinated.
"In my grandmother's case, I think some of her children advised her against it," said Wilson. "They said she was too old, it wasn't safe, she never left the house anyway."
As if to underline her children's words, her grandmother's 93-year-old brother was hospitalized shortly after being vaccinated with COVID-19. Wilson said she suspected he was already infected with the virus when he received the injection.
But even though her brother survived, her grandmother took it as a bad omen.
"I think that secured it," she said. "That was a big, big part that weighed on her."
The others, she said, were undoubtedly influenced by false reports on social media or by people who convinced them that the vaccine was being developed too quickly and was not safe.
"I think a lot of them were afraid to take it," she said.
But as the highly contagious Delta variant spread, their worries grew.
She said she was particularly concerned about her elderly grandmother and uncle, who lost one of his kidneys a few years ago and was waiting for a transplant.
“I said to her every day, 'You have to take it. You have to take it, '"said Wilson.
The last time she spoke to her uncle from his hospital bed during a Facetime chat, he told her he wished he had followed her advice.
“Tell our whole family to get vaccinated. It’s awful. It hurts, ”she said as he gasped.
She said she couldn't bring herself to talk to her grandmother about Facetime. When she took her grandmother to the hospital, doctors said her prognosis was bleak.
"I didn't want her to be tubing all over the place and watch her breathe," said Wilson. "Other grandchildren have done it and they have regretted it."
Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso, presents updated COVID-19 information to commissioners during the County Commission meeting in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
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That surge is ebbing, but another will follow, the county health director says
McKinlay mentioned Wilson's tragic story on Tuesday as the district commission received regular updates on the current state of the pandemic.
Figures from the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the spread of the virus in Florida has slowed in recent weeks after the Delta variant made August the deadliest month since the pandemic began.
Dr. Alina Alonso, director of the county's state health department, said she assumed the doldrums would be temporary. Like last year, she said she expected cases after holiday meetings to increase.
They and others continue to preach that widespread vaccination is the only way to stop the spread.
However, according to the CDC, only 63.9% of the county's residents aged 12 and over are fully vaccinated, while 74.4% received at least one vaccination.
While some people have some protection because they have recovered from the disease, people are still likely to resist the vaccines.
“There is no shortage of education. It's not a lack of availability, ”said Alonso. "It is people who consciously decide not to have a vaccination."
McKinlay said she doesn't understand why holdouts aren't vaccinated, but many have no qualms about receiving monoclonal antibody treatment after infection.
Treatment, offered free of charge at state centers across the state, including the Westgate Recreation Center near West Palm Beach, includes a one-hour intravenous infusion. Or you get four shots - two in the arm and two in the stomach.
In comparison, the vaccine requires an injection or two in the arm, she said.
Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay? interviewed Palm Beach County Health Director Dr. Alina Alonso, on comparing vaccines and monoclonal antibody treatments during the commission meeting in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, September 14, 2021.
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Some wonder why anti-vaccination agents seek monoclonal therapy
Many people, like members of Wilson's family, say they are not given injections because they believe the vaccines were rushed into production, McKinlay said.
They point out that the vaccines were only approved for emergency use, although the one made by Pfizer has since received full federal approval.
The monoclonal treatment still only has an emergency approval. And unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which tell the body to make antibodies against the virus, in monoclonal treatment the antibodies are man-made.
"People are against the vaccine, but the monoclonal therapy is fine," McKinlay said. "It worries me when I think someone is rejecting the vaccine, but it's okay to get the treatment that has the same regulatory status as the vaccine."
Commissioner Gregg Weiss said this was an expensive treatment too.
People can get it for free because the federal government bought it from pharmaceutical giant Regeneron.
At about $ 1,500 per inhabitant, it has cost about $ 6 million to treat the roughly 4,100 county's residents who have received it since the Westgate Center opened on Aug. 19. Running centers, he said.
"I'm glad we have it, but it also has its price," said Weiss. "Someone takes the bill."
Wilson said the cost of the disease to her family was enormous.
But, she said, as family members gathered for another funeral, her message was finally being heard. She said about 10 family members were recently vaccinated.
Still, she said, she mourns what was lost. She misses her uncle, whom she referred to as the “gentle giant” who was the “life of the party”.
The plan was to celebrate her grandmother's 90th birthday in March.
"She was a really strong person," said Wilson. “She had never been sick for a day in her life. She could always go on. "
This article originally appeared in the Palm Beach Post: COVID Kills 6 Unvaccinated Members of the Palm Beach County Family in 3 Weeks

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