Pennsylvania Family Devastated by Coronavirus After Mother and Son Die from Illness, and Six Other Relatives Are Sickened

The Perkins family during happier times, at the 2011 wedding of Lisa and Joseph Daugherty (top), with her brother Gregory Perkins Jr., her parents Gloria and Gregory Perkins Sr. (second row) and her youngest brother Samuel Perkins (seated)

The year 2020 hasn’t been kind to the Perkins family.

When the first warnings of the COVID-19 virus began earlier this year, Gloria Jean Perkins, 74, and her 73-year-old husband, Pastor Gregory Perkins Sr., took every precaution, having medications and groceries delivered to the South Fayette home they shared with their disabled son Samuel David Perkins and confining their caretakers to members of their immediate family.

They were especially vigilant because all three had underlying medical conditions that placed them at higher risk for complications.

Despite those measures — or even perhaps because of them — two members of the family have died from the novel coronavirus, while six others have been sickened.

On July 5, Samuel Perkins, 34, died, followed 10 days later by his mother. Mr. Perkins, the family patriarch, remains hospitalized and other family members have recovered.

The problems started in mid-June, when Samuel Perkins, who used a wheelchair and was born with cerebral palsy and a lung disorder, developed a cough, said his sister Lisa Daugherty, of Bridgeville.

“Sammy got sick with a cough and we thought it was just allergies or the common cold,” she said. “The doctor wasn’t seeing people, but he ordered medications for him, including breathing treatments and a CPAP machine with oxygen for nighttime. For two days, his cough wouldn’t stop, then he got a fever.”

By the time he arrived at St. Clair Hospital, other family members, including Mrs. Perkins and Mrs. Daugherty, who has lupus, also were diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Everybody tested positive,” Mrs. Daugherty said. “My dad, my other brother and his wife and children all tested positive. We were all caretakers for my brother and my parents. We’re not sure how it began, but we suspect that it might have been all the deliveries of medical supplies and groceries that came to the house.”

In the days and weeks that followed, Mrs. Daugherty, 53, her mother and her brother found themselves in the same isolated unit in the hospital, but unable to communicate with each other.

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SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Janice Crompton