As COVID-19 death toll climbs, SC families share their stories

As COVID-19 death toll climbs, SC families share their stories

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - On Thursday, the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control reported the number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the state has reached 4,145.

WIS spoke with families who have lost a family member to COVID-19 to look beyond that number and learn about the joy their loved ones brought, and their loss.

Richland County resident LaSheba Boyd said her father Gregory Sullivan died on Monday, Nov. 23 from COVID-19.

She said he was an outgoing man who loved to meet people and gather knowledge.

“He would be the person with that kind of random knowledge. So he would say, ‘you know honey, you know there was a star that exploded yesterday,’ and I’m like, ‘no Dad I didn’t know that,’” Boyd laughed.

She said Sullivan would talk to “anyone on the street.”

“When we were on trips and stuff, he would be the only person that came back and knew someone, it was kind of weird. He’d say, ‘you know Joe down the street’ and we’d be like, ‘who’s Joe?!,’” Boyd laughed again.

She said she and her father would FaceTime each other during the pandemic to be safe, and talk about current events or existential questions.

She said when her father became sick with COVID-19, he was well cared for and she had the opportunity for one last FaceTime call.

“[The nurse] said he can hear you, so I just prayed for my dad,” she said. “I just sung to him, I just prayed for him again. I prayed for the nurse named Madison and she said I’m holding your dad’s hand for you because I know you would be holding your dad’s hand for him.”

Boyd said her family has not been able to come together and grieve due to the virus, but will have a service for her father on Saturday.

She said she wants others to be safe through masking and avoiding large crowds, so they won’t experience her family’s pain.

DHEC Interim Director of Public Health Dr. Bannon Traxler said she lost her grandmother “MiMi” in May to the virus.

“She was always good for a glass of lemonade or water. and if you’re lucky maybe some popcorn. if you stopped by while out playing with your friends growing up,” she said. “I was her only granddaughter, so we had some special traditions that we did.”

Traxler said her grandmother was well cared for in hospice during her last struggles with COVID-19.

She also urges families to be safe while heading in to the holidays.

“I’m concerned. I’m concerned about South Carolina and the rest of the country in the numbers that we’re seeing,” she said. “Knowing that we are going into another round of holidays that we all want to get together for but can be very risky.”

As of noon on Dec. 1, DHEC is reporting 303 reported COVID-19 deaths in Richland County.

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