PASCO COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – As of Thursday evening, there have been just two COVID-19 deaths in Pasco County, a number that thankfully has not changed in the last few days.
However, 8 On Your Side has learned the first death was Rosemarie Gabriele who didn’t come to the hospital right away because there was a lot of conflicting information about whether she even needed to.
Her family says she’s not just a victim of COVID-19…she’s also a victim of circumstance.
“I said to her I still need you mom so please, please fight this, she said I know I will and that was it. I sent another text and she never saw it”
Tara Gabriele says that text would be the last time she would ever speak to her mother before doctors rushed to place the 71-year-old on a ventilator.
Within a few days Rosemarie would become Pasco County’s first death.
“She was just one of the kindest, most selfless people you could have ever met,” Gabriele said.
It was that selflessness Tara says that led her mother to downplay her symptoms and potentially seal her fate.
Rosemarie fell ill in early March after visiting her granddaughter in Virginia blaming the situation on asthma, and allergies but a week later her sister, Pat Scimone put her foot down.
“I said this is ridiculous… I went ahead with calling an ambulance,”Scimone said.
Rosemarie was checked into the hospital and tested for COVID-19 on March 19, it took five days to get her results back, by then it was too late. She passed away on March 24.
“It could have saved my mother’s life if we could get to her sooner and she’d been able to get in sooner,” Gabriele said.
Rosemarie’s family hopes in sharing her story can save lives and serve as a cautionary tale for patients, and families to act fast.
“Just because it’s not touching you doesn’t mean it’s not there and doesn’t mean it won’t touch you because it could very well,” Scimone said.
Rosemarie was laid to rest in New York on Wednesday with no family except one sister able to attend. The family is planning two celebrations of life, once life returns to normal.
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