TAYLOR COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — The holidays are a special time for families, and many have to decide whether to break traditions this year because of COVID-19.
After recently losing three family members to the virus, two Campbellsville sisters have a message for Kentuckians - don't risk your and your family's safety for the holiday.
Jessica Cheatham and Jama Allen say their family has always been close and have fond memories of going on vacation together.
“My grandma, she was really big into traveling, and that kind of just trickled down to my mom and then to others,” Cheatham said.
“We all have traveled so many times together. They were avid travelers,” Allen added.
Along with that love for travel, their parents Mark and Lisa shared a great love for each other. Those are memories they'll cherish after losing their parents and their grandfather to COVID-19 in the span of three weeks.
“It doesn't feel real at all. It feels like I'm just walking around in a dream,” said Cheatham.
Shortly after testing positive for the virus, their grandfather was hospitalized and found out he also had stage four leukemia. He died on Nov. 22. During that time, Mark tested positive and soon developed double pneumonia. He was taken to the hospital and not long after, Lisa was also hospitalized with COVID-19.
“The only time that my mom was allowed to see my dad in the hospital was right before he had passed,” said Allen. “It was one of the most heart-wrenching things I've had to watch through a glass door. I mean to watch my mom say goodbye to my dad.”
Lisa died just a few days after Mark passed away. The sisters say their parents constantly wore masks and gloves and only left the house for work, church or a grocery pickup.
“A lot of times, [mom] was watching the church service on her phone,” said Allen.
They are sharing their story to help people see how harmful the virus can be and how quickly a person's health can deteriorate in the hopes that people don't get too relaxed.
“I know that it is hard wearing a mask. I know everybody is fatigued,” said Allen. “I have customers who come in my store and they're like, 'Oh I'm young. I don't have any health conditions.' Well, that's great for you, but you may be packing a virus that can kill me. You're not wearing a mask for yourself. You're wearing it for somebody else.”
Allen also says trying to see her family members during their last days was challenging and the two want there to be more consistent policies when it comes to visitations during those moments in the hospital.
“There needs to be something more formal in place that allows us to help our loved ones that are in there,” said Cheatham.
Now they hope their story and message can help other loved ones.