Six members of an extended Florida family who feared getting vaccinated died of COVID-19 in the span of just three weeks, according to a report.
Lisa Wilson — whose uncle, grandmother and four cousins succumbed to the virus — said she went door to door in Belle Glade for months trying to persuade residents to get vaccinated. Her husband, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, was among the first in the farming community to get a shot, the Palm Beach Post reported.
But Wilson’s goodwill didn’t have the same impact on some of her relatives. Her 48-year-old uncle, Tyrone Moreland, died from the virus in late August. That set off a nightmarish chain of events that continued until Sunday when a fourth cousin, Trentarian Moreland, 44, also passed away from complications of COVID-19, Wilson told the newspaper.
“I was in their ears almost every day, ‘You’ve just got to do this,’” Wilson recalled Tuesday. “I’m beating myself up. Should I have pushed harder?”
A day after Tyrone’s funeral, Wilson’s 89-year-old grandmother, Lillie Mae Dukes Moreland, was hospitalized with the virus and died 24 hours later, the newspaper reported.
Wilson’s four cousins, including Trentarian Moreland, Shatara Dukes, 44, and Lisa Wiggins, 53, then died from the bug in rapid succession.
Lillie Mae Dukes was one of the six family members who perished from the COVID-19 virus. Family Handout
Wilson said she believes Tyrone Moreland and Dukes caught the virus while working at a food pantry. The other cases didn’t appear to be linked, but she said she was puzzled why they refused to get vaccinated.
“In my grandmother’s case, I think some of her children advised her not to do it,” Wilson told the Palm Beach Post. “They said she was too old, that it wasn’t safe, that she never left the house anyway.”
Her grandmother’s 93-year-old brother was hospitalized with the virus shortly after getting vaccinated, which Wilson said she believed led to doubts among the family.
“I think that secured it,” she said. “That was a big, big part that was weighing on her.”
Wilson thinks the 93-year-old was already infected when he was inoculated. He ultimately survived, but Wilson said her other relatives were also swayed by social media critics who cast doubt on the vaccine’s efficacy.
“I think a lot of them were afraid to take it,” Wilson said.
More than 49,000 people in Florida have died from COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Just 56 percent of the state’s residents are fully vaccinated. In Palm Beach County, that figure stands at 63.9 percent, the Palm Beach Post reported.