For months, Lisa Wilson went door to door in Belle Glade, Florida, trying to convince people to get the coronavirus vaccine.
Wilson, a longtime aide to Palm Beach County Commissioner Melissa McKinlay, persuaded pastors to preach about the need to get shots. Her husband, Belle Glade Mayor Steve Wilson, was one of the first in the western farming community to roll up his sleeve, hoping others would follow his example.
But despite Wilson’s insistence that the shots would save lives, some members of her own family ignored her.
In the last three weeks, six of them died from complications of COVID-19.
“I was in their ears almost every day. ‘You’ve just got to do this,’ ” Wilson said Tuesday, reeling from the tragedy that has consumed her family. “I’m beating myself up. Should I have pushed harder?”
First an uncle, then a grandmother, then cousins
The nightmare began in late August when her 48-year-old uncle, Tyrone Moreland, died.
A day after the family gathered for his funeral, her 89-year-old grandmother, Lillie Mae Dukes Moreland, was hospitalized. The longtime fixture in Belle Glade, who had nine children and also raised Wilson, died 24 hours later.
In quick succession, three more cousins, including 48-year-old Shatara Dukes and 53-year-old Lisa Wiggins, followed.
On Sunday, 44-year-old Trentarian Moreland, who spent years as an assistant football coach at various Palm Beach County high schools, died from the deadly virus.
Wilson suspects her uncle and Shatara Dukes, who shared the same birthday, caught the virus at a food pantry where both worked.
But, she said, there doesn’t appear to be a link between the others.
Family members who had recently visited her grandmother were tested. The results all came back negative. But, she said, her grandmother was known for inviting neighbors onto her porch and into her house to chat.
“We just don’t know,” said Wilson.
Wilson is further baffled about why her family members so steadfastly refused to get vaccinated.
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