PHOENIX — This Thanksgiving, thousands of families have an empty seat at the kitchen table as more than 6,000 Arizonans have died from COVID-19.
Two families from Arizona are sharing their heartbreak as they have suffered tremendous loss this year.
Joyce Bailey, known as Joyce the Voice, was in an Intensive Care Unit with COVID-19 this past summer, thankfully she survived.
However, her younger sister Kathy Jones, was hospitalized at the same time — but did not survive.
“My mom is my aunt’s power of attorney, they were calling her ICU to inform of my aunt’s decline,” said Bailey’s son Todd. “It’s just not something you wish on anyone.”
Jones, 64, had multiple health issues including multiple sclerosis — that left her bound to an electric wheelchair. When Jones contracted COVID-19 she deteriorated quickly and died within nine days.
Bailey said the hardest part was not being able to comfort her baby sister. "For me it was just not able to comfort her as she transitioned from this life into her final life.”
The Bailey family was not the only one who lost family this year. Christina Rodriquez lost her mother Catherine in a long-term care facility this past summer.
“I’ve never wanted anything more in my life than to have my mother right now,” said Rodriquez.
Rodriquez lost her mother during an outbreak at the Sapphire nursing home in Tucson — that resulted in more than 80 residents and staff members positive.
The new mother of a 2-year-old son was looking forward to Thanksgiving with her mother in their new home. "Our ending phone calls were me just telling her I loved her, and I could hear her struggling breathing.”
And, as so many are heeding the warning of officials, and at least hosting small gatherings with only close family members, Rodriquez can't be with hers.
“COVID denies you everything, it denies you grieving with your family, it denies you holidays, it denies you normal life.”