COVID-19 exacts a heavy toll

Eight families in The Bahamas have been paralyzed with grief after losing loved ones who contracted COVID-19.

Lloydra Bowleg-Cash still has a difficult time talking about her mother, Kim Johnson-Rolle, 57, who was the first COVID-19-positive person to die in The Bahamas.

“Taking it one second at a time,” Bowleg-Cash told The Nassau Guardian.

It’s been two weeks since Johnson-Rolle died after being transported from Bimini to New Providence for medical treatment.

However, Bowleg-Cash said the family still has not started making funeral plans for Johnson-Rolle, who owned a restaurant in Bailey Town, Bimini.

Three days after Johnson-Rolle’s death, Stafford Coakley, 79, and Susan Julie Cates, 67, also died after contracting the virus.

Cates worked in accounting for Bahamas Underground.

“Just a few months ago, during Hurricane Dorian, Cates’ home was destroyed and she evacuated to Nassau to live with her family there,” Brian Kakuk, an operator of Bahamas Underground, wrote in an emotional Facebook post on April 5.

“Life is not fair and at times it downright sucks.

“It’s been a double slap in the face to us in the northern Bahamas between Dorian and now COVID-19.

“We, here in Abaco, will miss Julie as a friend, coworker and part of our island community. My heartfelt condolences go out to her family and friends.

“Goodbye Julie. Thank you for all that you did for us.”

On April 3, Clarence Bartlett, 80, became the first COVID-19 patient to die on Grand Bahama.

Bartlett, a former electrical inspector for the Grand Bahama Port Authority, died one month before his 81st birthday.

His son, Chad Bartlett, said he will especially miss his father during Christmas.

“He was very family orientated,” Bartlett told The Guardian.

“[During] Christmases and birthdays, he always bought his grandchildren gifts and wanted to see them. The last Christmas together, my older brother and mother did all the cooking.

“My nephew and my daughter came over and we sat at the table in the dining room as a family.”

On April 5, the Ministry of Health announced that Dr. Judson Eneas, a leading member of the Bahamian medical community, died the night before.

Eneas established dialysis services at Doctors Hospital in 1986 and was one of the founders of the Gentlemen’s Club.

Anku Eneas, Dr. Eneas’ nephew, said the family does not have any funeral plans “at this time”.

He said it is likely a funeral won’t be held “until the children that live in the [United] States can get back here”.

“Most likely, a celebratory event will be held this summer to commemorate his life and legacy,” Eneas told The Guardian.

On April 6, a 51-year-old woman died on Grand Bahama.

A posthumous COVID-19 test revealed that she had contracted the virus.

A few days later, a 25-year-old man who has cerebral palsy, was also diagnosed with COVID-19.

He remained hospitalized at Rand Memorial Hospital on Grand Bahama.

On April 7, Frank Reid Sr., who was originally from Barbados, became the oldest COVID-19 patient to die in The Bahamas thus far.

The retired teacher was 91.

His son, Frank Reid Jr., told The Guardian, “Mom said she wants him to be remembered as a humble, Christian gentleman.

“He loved his family, his church, Holy Cross Parish, the Barbadian Bahamian Society, his friends, colleagues and past students.

“They all seemed to love him in return.”

One day after Reid’s death, it was announced that a 56-year-old woman who lived on New Providence died.

She was the eighth COVID-19-positive person to die in The Bahamas.

Her death came nearly a month after the country’s first confirmed COVID-19 case was publicized.

For the families of those who lost their lives to COVID-19, the illness has dealt a double blow: The initial and debilitating blow has been the virus itself, which has caused suffering for its victims before claiming their lives. The second blow is associated with their loved ones not being able to properly say goodbye and to properly grieve.

The prime minister’s COVID-19 order prohibits funerals of more than 10 people.

Also, a lockdown is planned for every weekend in April and churches across the country have closed their doors.

The Nassau Guardian confirmed that at least one victim has been cremated.

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