MILWAUKEE (NBC) — A Milwaukee man lost almost his entire immediate family to COVID-19 in just a few weeks.
John Delarue was getting ready to celebrate the holidays with his mom, dad, and sister when COVID-19 hit his family. By New Year’s Eve, his mom, dad and sister would all be dead.
“I’m the sole survivor from my immediate family. I saw my parents (and) my sister almost every day. We were (a) pretty close family,” Delarue said.
Delarue lived below his parents with his kids in a duplex that his parents owned. His mom and dad lived above him with his sister who was blind.
On Dec. 9th, Delarue was home when he heard a thud above him and went to his parent’s room to find out what made the noise.
“I stopped up in my parents one morning after work (and) my mom had collapsed on the floor. I thought she was having a heart attack, so I called 911,” Delarue said.
Instead, the family found out his mom, Susan Delarue had COVID and she was immediately put in the COVID ICU.
“I talked to my mom. It was the day before they intubated her, and she told me that her nurse and doctors recommended that if my dad and sister were feeling sick that they should get to the hospital right away,” Delarue said.
What Delarue never told his mom was that her daughter, Lynn, never even got the chance to go to the hospital. She had died in her sleep that morning. According to the medical examiner’s office, she was positive for COVID.
“We kind of both agreed that it would be best that we did not tell her until she got better. We had hopes that everyone was going to get better,” Delarue said.
Instead, the tragedy only continued for the Delarue family. John’s mom went into organ failure and died five days after her daughter. At the same time, her husband of more than 40 years, James, was rushed to a different hospital. He too had COVID.
“He started getting fevers off and on. His organs started failing as well. His doctor was just like, you know, best thing to do in this case is start end of life care, also with him. She’s like, ‘Do you agree?’ and I just lost it at that point, like, ‘I’m losing my dad too?’” Delarue said.
According to the medical examiner, all three family members died of Covid. John says he never suspected his mom was sick. He says his sister had some covid symptoms, and his dad had more severe symptoms, including shortness of breath.
John says his mom and dad loved being grandparents to his three children. He says his parents were each other’s best friends.
“They were always happy. You would never see my parents arguing. If they did, they would just blow it off super quick and get over it,” Delarue said.
He says his sister Lynn was extremely outgoing. She spent most of her time at the Center for Deaf-Blind Persons. He says the hardest time for her during the height of the pandemic in 2020 was when the center had to temporarily close. He says she turned to reading to get through it.
“There was just constant packages of Braille books coming into the house, and she was just reading,” Delarue said.
Lynn was 44 years old. His parents were both 68 years old. He says they were not vaccinated. He wants people to take COVID-19 seriously.
“You know, anybody can get this. A lot of people are sick right now, and if your loved ones aren’t feeling well, make sure you check in on them and make sure that they get tested,” Delarue said.
Delarue says he is now getting vaccinated. His shot is scheduled for this week.