BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - One Coast woman says the COVID-19 pandemic has become all too real for her and her family after she lost her grandmother last week to the virus.
She’s now urging people to follow the advice of local and state officials to take the pandemic seriously and wear a mask in the hope that her story will be a wake-up call to others.
The last month has been a tough one for Madeline Nicklas. Her mom was hospitalized for several days with the virus and is now recovering, and her beloved grandmother passed away last week.
The hardest park for Nicklas is that she never got to say goodbye to her grandma due to visitor restrictions at the hospital.
“Not being able to be by her side when she...that was the hard part, that was the hardest part,” she said.
Having two family members become seriously ill from COVID-19 has been a hard-hitting reminder that the pandemic isn’t getting any better.
“It’s so easy to make yourself believe that this isn’t real,” said Nicklas. “And so it was definitely an eye opener for me personally.”
For weeks, state officials have been urging people, especially younger people, to wear a mask to protect others around them.
“My concern is when we look two weeks from now, we’re going to start seeing more and more hospitalizations because it’s almost that second reiteration where the 20-29 year old has it, and then they go give it to their 60 to 70 year old grandmother or grandfather, oftentimes, unknowingly,” said Gov. Tate Reeves, during a press conference last week.
On Thursday, Reeves announced mask mandates for several counties in the state, including Jackson and Harrison counties here on the Coast.
Nickalas said she’s glad to hear of the new mask requirements but she still has concerns that people won’t follow the guidelines.
“I just hope that people don’t have to learn like I do and lose someone that they care about,” she said. “I hope they start listening.”
She says this is a time for Mississippi to come together, to take the virus more seriously and, hopefully, save lives.
“People need to realize how serious this is. It’s a real thing and it’s happening.”