With over 3.9 million confirmed cases of coronavirus and over 143,000 deaths, there are many Americans who refuse to view the virus as a serious threat.
Of those who hope to get through to that demographic, Monete Hicks is speaking out to spread awareness after losing her two children to it.
Both of Hicks’ children were in their early 20s and in good health until a trip to Orlando, Florida, left them both feeling under the weather.
According to Hicks, her son Byron Francis, 20, and daughter, Mychaela Francis, 23, had been “basically homebound” for months since the pandemic began. But sometime in June, they decided to take a trip from their home in Lauderhill, Florida, to Orlando, some four hours away. It’s believed that at some point on their trip, they contracted the virus.
But soon after their return, Byron began experiencing breathing troubles. And after waking up on a Saturday from a nap, he was rushed to a nearby hospital by paramedics. But by then — it was too late. On June 27th, Byron was pronounced dead due to complications that were later determined by doctors were due to COVID-19. Hicks was in shock, nonetheless.
And then, just days later, Mychaela also began to feel ill. Worried about her sickness, she asked her mother to take her to the hospital.
Despite mourning her son, Hicks quickly driver her daughter to the hospital. “‘Mama, just crank up the car, let’s go,'” Hicks said her daughter begged. They quickly made their way to the hospital where Mychaela was admitted with a headache and a fever. But much like her brother, her health began to fail.
“She lost a kidney, her liver began to fail,” her mother told CNN. “And it just went one after another, one after another.”
On July 8, just 11 days after Byron, Mychaela ultimately succumbed to the virus. And while both Byron and Mychaela reportedly had underlying health conditions, the Broward County Medical Examiner’s Office confirmed that COVID-19 was the primary cause of their deaths, NBC News reported.
On a GoFundMe page created in their memory, Hicks wrote how Byron was the “big teddy bear” of the family — while Mychaela was described as a great listener who was always willing to give advice. The page has raised just over $17,000 to date to put toward funeral costs but more is still needed to meet Hicks’ $20,000 goal.
The mourning mother is currently urging the public to take this seriously.
With a background in the creative and educational fields, Amelia Finefrock is freelance writer, singer-songwriter and nanny based in Chicago.