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Birmingham lawmaker Merika Coleman loses 4 family members to COVID-19

Rep. Merika Coleman. (CBS-42/WIAT Photo)

State Rep. Merika Coleman is sharing her story of her family’s battle with COVID-19.

Coleman, D-Birmingham, and her cousin, Jacqueline Edwards, talked to CBS 42 News about four family members who have died due to complications from the virus and five others who tested positive for it and are fighting it.

Coleman said they don’t know for certain when or where the virus started spreading, but she thinks it could have been in early March when the family gathered together for a funeral. Out of the four who died, three attended the funeral.

“It really hit us hard,” Edwards said. “We’re still grieving and even though we have numbers that are recovering and bodies may be healing, mentally we’re not doing well. I have seeked out grief counseling for my mental health.”

The youngest of the four who died was their cousin, Joe “Jay” Moore Jr., who was 47 years old.

The other family members were Delois “Doll” Holmes, Setrett Spidle Sr., and Thelma Patio.

“I want people to know there are real families and there is real pain that is connected to this virus, and the families who have lost and people gone, they’re not just names on a list, not just numbers that Alabama State Health Department puts out,” Coleman said. “These are real name and real families impacted and we want people to realize that and be careful.”

Coleman and Edwards said they were deeply disturbed and upset to see videos of crowded beaches and restaurants during Memorial Day weekend. They hope their story reminds people that there are families deeply hurting and to protect yourself when out in public.

“It’s a slap in the face for those who have lost loved ones when people are like gallivanting around and again acting as if this virus isn’t real,” Coleman said.

“COVID-19 is real. This virus even, if it’s not affected you, it has killed several of my family members and even if you were to get it, you can be asymptomatic and pass it on to other people. You can start having problems yourself. This is no joke. You do not want to go through this. If I could just have 5 minutes with my relatives again, just 5 minutes because you never know what’s going to happen in this life,” Edwards said.

Coleman and Edwards both said the other family members who tested positive for COVID-19 are now recovering at home.