Man Finds Sister Dead in Bed, Loses Nearly All His Family to COVID-19 Within Weeks

A Milwaukee man lost his entire immediate family to COVID-19 within a few weeks after both his parents had to be hospitalized and he found his sister deceased in bed at home.

John Delarue's mother collapsed on December 11, prompting him to call 911 because he thought she was having a heart attack. At the hospital, she learned she had COVID-19 and after being in the Intensive Care Unit for days, she passed away. By December 31, Delarue also lost his sister and his father.

While his mother was intubated at the hospital, the rest of the family attempted to recover from COVID-19 at home. On December 16, he went to check on his dad and sister and found his sister deceased in her bed, according to a GoFundMe he started in the wake of his family's deaths.

Delarue called paramedics to take his dad to the hospital as his condition worsened, and he remained at home to wait for the medical examiner. His father was intubated and fought for his life in the ICU. However, on December 31, he lost his battle to COVID-19.

"I'm the sole survivor from my immediate family. I saw my parents (and) my sister almost every day. We were (a) pretty close family," Delarue told local news station WTMJ.

covid-19 death family vaccine
John Delarue lost his parents and sister to COVID-19 within a few weeks, making him the "sole survivor" of his immediate family. Delarue's parents, who were both 68, are shown in the above photo shared on his GoFundMe to pay for their cremation. GoFundMe

The family lived in a duplex, with Delarue's parents and his sister living above him and his children. His sister was legally blind and his parents served as her primary caregivers. He said they were loving grandparents to his three children and each other's best friends.

"They were always happy. You would never see my parents arguing. If they did, they would just blow it off super quick and get over it," Delarue said.

While his mom was hospitalized, Delarue said he spoke to her but never told her that her daughter, Lynn, died in her sleep. He told WTMJ that he and his father agreed it would be best to keep the news from her until she got better and they hoped everyone would be fine.

However, his mom went into organ failure, an unfortunate turn his father would also take once hospitalized. After seeking medical care, Delarue said his father started getting fevers "off and on" and doctors later advised him to start end-of-life care.

"I just lost it at that point, like, 'I'm losing my dad too?' You know we really were hoping, he was going to come home," Delarue said.

Both his parents were 68 when they died, an age that would put them in the high-risk category for COVID-19. Neither his parents nor his sister were vaccinated when they contracted COVID-19.

Although vaccines have proven to be less effective against the Omicron variant than the Delta variant, officials are urging people to get vaccinated because they still have a reduced risk of getting seriously ill. Health experts are also pushing eligible people to get a booster dose because it's shown in studies to significantly increase a person's protection from dying of COVID-19.

Delarue told Newsweek he wasn't hesitant about getting vaccinated. He said he planned on getting the shot and wishes he did it sooner but his work-life balance "didn't offer an easy opportunity to make it happen." He found an appointment in the wake of his family's death, but he said scheduling it wasn't an easy task.

Americans have struggled to find vaccine and booster dose appointments as Omicron, a highly infectious variant, spread. Without vaccine mega-sites, responsibility for vaccinations has largely been on health care providers and pharmacies. Staff shortages and increased demand for vaccines left some people forced to travel to find an appointment or wait weeks to get the shot.

"I'm sure a lot more people would get vaccinated if they didn't have to deal
with scheduling and waiting in lines," Delarue said. "It's harder now than ever with the current state of things."

Along with vaccines, early intervention can increase a person's chances of surviving COVID-19 and Delarue advised people to make sure their loved ones get tested if they aren't feeling well.

Delarue isn't financially able to cremate his parents, according to his GoFundMe, and is looking to raise $5,000. As of press time, he had raised $4,745. He thanked everyone for their support during this "incredibly difficult time" because he said he didn't "know where to turn."