Created: April 20, 2020 06:38 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A member of the Navajo Nation who lost her brother to COVID-19 is pleading with everyone on and off the reservation to stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus.
“This could happen to anybody,” said Cheryl Blie. “Al was a very young person. He had his whole life ahead of him. All the fun things you get to experience with life—marriage, children a career—he didn't get to experience those things just yet."
Blie said her family is mourning the loss of her younger brother, 34-year-old Al.
“We've been trying to track how Al might have contracted COVID,” she said.
Blie said her brother, who lived in Lukachukai, Arizona, took all the proper precautions like using gloves and wearing masks on essential trips out of the house.
"It must have been that one time that we went to the gas station or that we went and got groceries that that had happened to him,” she said.
Blie said her brother’s symptoms set in quickly. In the beginning, she said he did not have a cough, but did experience stomach issues and loss of taste and smell.
"It wasn’t until the fifth day that he woke up and was really complaining of shortness of breath,” Blie said.
Al was transported to Albuquerque where he was tested for COVID-19 and put on a ventilator. The following day, Blie said her brother’s health rapidly declined. None of Al’s family members got the chance to say goodbye to him.
"That's the hardest part about this whole thing I think is just and I wish people could understand the severity of that, if a person tests positive for COVID, you can't go to the hospital, you can't be there with them as they take their last breaths and they die alone,” Blie said.
Blie said her family was able to lay him to rest, but not in the traditional way. She hopes everyone will stay at home so no one has to go through losing a loved one the way her family lost Al.
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