COVID Kills Indiana Pastor, Mother and Sister in a Single Week

The family of an Indiana pastor is mourning this holiday season after he and two other close family members died of COVID-19 in the days leading up to Christmas.

Pastor Jim Applegate, 54, led the Westview Christian Church in Campbellsburg for more than 20 years and was the first family member to die, on December 20, after being infected with the coronavirus. Just 12 hours later, his mother, Pat Applegate, died, as did his sister MaryJane Applegate, 59, on Christmas Eve.

"Despite doing their best to take precautions, they all became sick and things progressed so quickly. A huge hole has been left in our church and in our family. Nick has been the youth pastor for over the past five years and is trying his best to watch over the church and its members in his father's absence," Mariah Applegate, the wife of Jim's son Nick, told Newsweek Tuesday in an email.

Indiana ambulance
An ambulance from Indiana arrives at Wyckoff Hospital in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, on April 5. BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty

The Applegate family wants others to know how serious and deadly the pandemic can be.

"Many people don't seem to think COVID-19 is serious, and it may not be to some. But to others, it can obviously be deadly. We just want others to realize that we must do our best to protect those who are older or more at risk," Mariah said.

Nick previously told ABC News affiliate WHAS 11 that he was putting his faith in Jesus during this difficult time, just as his father taught him.

"The thing that's keeping me going is hope and it's hope in Jesus, because I know where they're at," he said. "The first few weeks in December, our community had seen a lot of COVID cases, especially here in our church family, and in my family alone COVID has went through our entire family."

More than 19.3 million Americans have been infected by the virus since the pandemic started just over 11 months ago. Of those, more than 335,000 have died as the pandemic continues to surge nationwide, according to The New York Times.

Over 120,000 people are currently hospitalized because of COVID-19 in the U.S. and the country is adding an average of more than 180,000 new virus infections per day. During the past seven days, an average of more than 2,100 people have died daily.

Indiana, the state where the Applegate family resides, has seen nearly half a million infections since the onset of the pandemic. More than 7,800 people have died in Indiana because of COVID-19 at the time of this writing.