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Detroit family of COVID-19 victim urges residents to take coronavirus seriously

Father tested positive for coronavirus, died 5 days later

DETROIT – On March 19, James Harper, an 80-year-old man tested positive for coronavirus and was hospitalized at Sinai-Grace Hospital in Detroit.

His family struggled with coping with the diagnosis. The hospital told the family he wasn’t doing well, but the family wasn’t allowed inside the hospital to limit potential exposure. The one daughter who was able to get inside saw her father through a window.

“We said we loved him and he loved us,” she told Local 4. “That was the last time.”

Through the window, she saw her father die Tuesday night.

The family has a message for everyone Wednesday for anyone not taking the rules to lower the risk of spreading coronavirus seriously.

“Young people are passing from it, but older people they don’t have a chance," a family member said.

A loved one can be taken in an instant. Harper was a robust 80.

He initially thought he had a cold and purchased Vernors and soup.

The cough was followed by a fever. Harper had difficulty breathing and was feeling fatigued.

RELATED: Family of 80-year-old Detroit coronavirus patient describes symptoms, hospital scene, disbelief

He was placed on a ventilator at Sinai-Grace.

The family said they knew he was strong and thought he would pull through.

The family has worked to quarantine Harper’s wife, their mother, and are terrified to losing her too.

“I’m here with my mother," a family member said. “I don’t want her to have to be hospitalized.”

The family said anyone who isn’t taking COVID-19 seriously is making a mistake.

MORE: Tracking daily new COVID-19 cases in Michigan

The city of Detroit, as of 2:15 p.m., March 25, 2020, has 598 confirmed coronavirus cases.

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. Michigan.gov has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.


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