With the major spike in coronavirus cases happening in Oklahoma, it can be hard to see through the numbers and to the people the virus impacts. One Tulsa woman says COVID-19 killed her dad in April and is taking a huge toll on her mother’s health.
More than 25,000 Oklahomans have tested positive for COVID-19, meaning more than 25,000 people have their own story to share about the disease. Jennifer Nikel from Tulsa says she is ready to share her story only with News on 6.
In mid-March, Nikel’s father became extremely ill. At the time, she says they weren’t sure what he had since he hadn’t yet been tested for the coronavirus. He was eventually sent home, but after only two days of being home he couldn’t breathe and became delirious. Nikel says they took to him to hospital where he stayed until April 11 when he passed away from COVID-19. She says during this time her mother also became ill and eventually learned she was positive for coronavirus as well.
“It has definitely broken us, but we have come together, and every day is a struggle but we are surviving,” Nikel says.
After he passed away, this family’s nightmare still wasn’t over yet. Her mother soon lost her home to foreclosure and they are struggling to keep her and the family afloat after months of being in the hospital or suffering from the lasting effects from the virus. Nikel says her mother kept testing positive for another two months after she was feeling better and just recently got a negative result.
Now, they are trying to pick up the pieces of their lives. Nikel says her family still hasn’t been able to bury her father since it’s too much of a risk to get her family together in a large group. She says her family hasn’t been able to properly lay her dad to rest and that is what hurts the most.
“We haven’t been able to bury my father,” Nikel says. “We had him cremated but we haven’t been able to have a memorial or burial. We are terrified that if we got together and someone got sick from that gathering, I couldn’t live with myself.”
She says it’s hard to ignore the “what ifs” in this kind of situation but can’t help but wonder if there could’ve been a different outcome under different circumstances like a mask mandate being implemented in the state of Oklahoma.
“If only people would wear a mask and realize if they wear a mask it would prevent other families from suffering the loss we have suffered its changed our lives,” Nikel says.
She asks that the next time you’re frustrated with the mask mandate, to instead remember her dad’s face with the coronavirus name.
“It kills me every day; I miss him every day, and that makes me angry when I look at people who choose not to wear a mask or believe this is real,” Nikel says.