When Red Deer’s first COVID-19 death was announced Friday, the pandemic became shockingly real for Amanda Macaulay.
Her 91-year-old grandmother, Kate Armstrong, became the first Red Deerian to succumb to COVID-19, while a resident of Points West Living nursing home.
Macaulay remains devastated by the news — even in partial disbelief.
She said she wasn’t able to see Armstrong all year long, because the nursing home was in a pandemic lockdown. Family members thought they were staying away to protect her health, “but no one was safe,” added Macaulay.
An outbreak at Points West Living in Red Deer was declared earlier this month.
Seventeen staffers, as well as 15 residents had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Dec. 15.
As of Monday evening, the facility was still listed on Alberta government’s list of province-wide outbreaks.
Macaulay recalled celebrating Armstrong’s last birthday on Jan. 19 — which was one of the last times she saw her widowed grandmother, who had been suffering from dementia.
As a child, Macaulay recalled she and her brother would visit their grandparents for two weeks every summer at their home in Drumheller. “We had a lot of fun,” she said, baking with grandma, and helping grandpa tinker with his homemade lawn ornaments.
The senior couple raised eight sons and daughters and had numerous grandchildren. But not one of these family members were allowed to be with Armstrong when she died of the coronavirus.
Now Armstrong’s extended family will not be able to come together to mourn her death. The latest provincial restrictions allow just 10 people to gather to pay their last respects.
Macaulay expressed anger at “the mixed messages the government is sending.” Why are Albertans still allowed to fly to Mexico to cavort on public beaches there, when local families aren’t allowed to mourn as a group, she asked.
She’s heard the urban legends circulating about how untested people are supposedly being sent results that they tested positive for the coronavirus. “Until it happens to yourself, or your family members, (COVID-19) can be hard to believe,” she admitted.
But Macaulay wants people to know “this is real. This is not a joke.”
Red Deer reported its second COVID-19 related death Sunday.
As of Monday afternoon, the city had 415 active cases of the virus.