HOPEWELL, Va. -- The family of Virginia nurse Syvie Robertson said she died from complications related to COVID-19 early New Year's Day.
Robertson’s family is opening up about their unexpected loss in hopes that people not taking the pandemic seriously will change course.
"She was supposed to show me how to make prime rib for Christmas this year,” Meshayla Jones, Syvie Robertson's daughter, said.
But instead of spending the holidays with her family, Robertson's daughter said her mother was on a ventilator at a Richmond hospital.
“We were supposed to do it together, and we didn't get that chance,” Jones lamented. “It wasn't because she was being careless; it was because she was helping others get better."
The Hopewell nurse died from complications related to COVID-19 one hour into the new year, according to her family.
"This COVID really frightened her," Jones recalled. "It frightened her from the very beginning."
Shelia Clanton, Robertson's aunt, called the coronavirus the “worst thing ever” because said the disease consumes, takes over and destroys families.
Robertson's death came one day after Virginia topped the grim mark of 5,000 COVID-related deaths and as local health officials warn a wave of new cases is expected within the next two weeks.
"We will continue to see the impacts of them all the way into January, with increased illness from COVID, increased hospitalizations,” Richmond-Henrico Health District Deputy Director Dr. Melissa Viray said. “And really, it worries me from the standpoint of our healthcare."
Robertson's family said that like so many healthcare workers she pressed on with her work despite the dangers.
"She had a strong conviction of mask up,” Clanton said. “She masked up and went to work. And for this, she paid with her life."
Jones urged people to follow the advice of health experts and take the pandemic seriously.
"Just do what they're asking you to do as far as keeping yourself safe, because this thing will destroy you in rapid speed,” Jones said. “It's a loss that I wouldn't wish on anyone. As I keep saying, you wouldn't want to be in our shoes."
Clanton called Robertson her hero.
"Heroes come in all forms, shapes and sizes,” she said. “I needed for people to know that she was a hero. She worked tirelessly."
Most patients with COVID-19 have mild to moderate symptoms. However, in a small proportion of patients, COVID-19 can lead to more severe illness, including death, particularly among those who are older or those who have chronic medical conditions.
COVID-19 spreads primarily through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
Symptoms include fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms appear within 14 days of being exposed to an infectious person.
Virginia health officials urged the following precautions:
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
- Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer only if soap and water are not available.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when coughing or sneezing.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.
- Stay home when you are sick.
- Avoid contact with sick people.
- Avoid non-essential travel.