BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - The numbers are frightening, and when you put names and faces with those numbers, it’s also heartbreaking.
Among those names is Elaine McRae.
Elaine McRae was a nurse for more than 20 years, and she was a single mother of four children.
In March, she moved to the COVID-19 unit at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport.
“She volunteered to be a COVID nurse when this first started,” said daughter Allyson Nulta. “She really thought she could do some good, and she did. She helped a lot of people. We, of course, were proud of her. She’s an amazing woman and she has so many gifts to share. And this is something she felt strongly about.”
Her eldest child, Brandon Mizell, remembers the discussions.
“She was constantly telling us that because this person made it, it gave her hope for more people to make it.” said Mizell.
But, the price for her heroism was steep.
On August 25th, her youngest daughter Monica Erwin took her back to Memorial, this time as a patient, after showing signs of COVID-19.
“We’ve never seen her sick,” Nulta said. “We’ve never seen her with a fever. We’ve never seen her with a cold.”
But on November 5th, the previously 63-year-old with big plans in retirement lost her battle with COVID-19.
“Even after she died, they allowed us to stay with her for hours,” Nulta said. “I just kept...I just kept waiting for her to open her eyes. And, it just never happened.”
Brandon Mizell, the eldest of her four children, is struggling with guilt.
“That eats at me,” said Mizell. “When I lay down at night, that eats at me. I could have done more than I did. But there’s nothing I can do about it now. So, don’t waste any time.”
Erwin became a nurse because of her mother.
“To explain that my mom is my hero is an understatement,” said Erwin. “She raised four kids. She was a single mom raising four kids I was about three or four years old when she went into nursing school. So, I remember her being in nursing school.”
McRae’s children doesn’t want their her, nor anyone else who dies from this virus to become just a number.
“The compassion that you should feel when you see that number should go beyond just a statistic," said Erwin. "It should be, that’s a human being.”
Mizell also added “Don’t take this virus for granted. Because it is very real.”
The family will have services for McRae on Friday in Lucedale.