Nurse who lost her mother to COVID-19 says it’s time to take the pandemic seriously

WATCH: Nurse who lost her mother to COVID-19 says it's time to take the pandemic seriously

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A Memphis woman shared the story of losing her mother to COVID-19 despite all the efforts she took to protect her from being exposed.

Tina Baker-Shinault told FOX13 if you love relatives who are elderly it is time to take the pandemic seriously.

The family of Terry Adams said their goodbyes at a graveside ceremony Friday. Only close friends and family could attend because of COVID-19 concerns.

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Adams’ only child told FOX13 she is beginning the process of life without mom. FOX13 asked Baker-Shinault what the one thing is she will miss most about her mother.

"Her smile, her smile. Her smile," she said.

As a nurse, Baker-Shinault said she did her best to protect her 67-year-old mother from contracting COVID-19 but somehow Adams caught the virus.

“It could have been that rail she went down the steps with. It could have been the door she touched. I don’t know," said Baker-Shinault.

Her mother needed dialysis regularly because of kidney failure. And when the virus took hold, it never let go.

“She didn’t have more fight. I heard that she fought. She really did. She fought,” said Baker-Shinault.

Terry Adams put a face to a figure that has alarmed health officials locally and nationally.

In Shelby County, more than 74-percent of COVID-19 fatalities are African Americans, many of them already suffering from a pre-existing medical condition that made them vulnerable.

Baker-Shinault told FOX13 the black community needs to take the warnings about prevention seriously, particularly elderly relatives.

"I had to talk to my mom's nurses over the phone. I had to look at my mom on facetime and when my mom went into respiratory distress, I had to call the front desk to come in there and help her," she said.

The pandemic will end and Shinault's grief will ease. In the meantime, her warning about COVID-19 is from the heart.

“We have to take it seriously,” she said. “I know we don’t like being at home. People like to be out, but it is for our safety.”

Baker-Shinault said she plans to have a larger memorial service for her mother when the pandemic is over.

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