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Jenice Armstrong is a columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
I see y’all not wearing face masks or social distancing.
I know some of you are still congregating with friends and loved ones as if we weren’t in a pandemic.
But I get it. “COVID fatigue” is real. You hardly know what to believe. So many conflicting messages.
President Donald Trump, who reportedly recovered from COVID-19 after being given several experimental treatments, urged “don’t be afraid of it” and “don’t let it dominate your lives.”
Meanwhile, more than 220,000 people in the United States have died. Families have been ravaged by not just COVID-19 but also by the carnage it can leave in its wake, as it did with the Logan family from Sharon Hill, Pennsylvania.
Theirs had been a tight-knit working-class family, but that was before Eric Omar Logan, a 49-year-old correctional officer, began experiencing COVID-like symptoms in early September.
His 77-year-old mother, Eleanor Logan, tried to care for him. She left meals outside his bedroom door in their home. Soon it became apparent that he needed medical attention. After Eric was admitted to Media’s Riddle Hospital on Sept. 10, doctors discovered that he was suffering from double pneumonia as well as COVID-19.
Then, Eleanor started feeling sick herself. She underwent coronavirus testing but was initially told the result was negative. Later, though, the mother of three learned she, too, had contracted the coronavirus and was admitted to Mercy Catholic Medical Center’s Mercy Fitzgerald Campus.
“Going in, she was extremely worried about her son. They were really close,” Grant Eldridge, a family friend, told me on Oct. 15. “It didn’t seem like he was getting better. He was kind of at a standstill.”
Eleanor died on Sept. 28. At first, family members grappled with whether even to tell Eric but wound up doing so. Then, a few days later, on Oct. 1, they were at Earl L. Foster Funeral Home making final arrangements for Eleanor when they got word that Eric, too, was gone.
“We were literally picking out caskets,” recalled Eldridge, Eric’s best friend from childhood.
“Eric was a very encouraging person. He loved kids. When I had my kids, that was like their father more than their uncle,” said his sister Dawn Smith, of Orlando, Florida. “He was just that guy.”
Friends sold T-shirts emblazoned with Eric’s face and favorite sayings to raise money for his three children. People reminisced about how they referred to him as the neighborhood’s “mayor” and “first responder.” The vibe was light. Still, there was no getting past the real reason they had come together.
“For a mother and son to go at the same time, it’s just devastating,” said Johnny Taliaferro, 50, a social worker.
It’s too late for the Logans.
But not for us. If reading about a mother and son dying just days apart isn’t enough to jolt folks into wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, then I don’t know what will.
“We never thought that it would touch us the way that it did. It’s just a thing until it’s on your front step,” Eldridge said. “And then it becomes real.”