CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — When Marlene José, 20, lost her mom to the coronavirus weeks after she lost her 1-year-old brother to the disease, she said, she felt like she was “split in half.”
Her mother had been in the intensive care unit for a week, her lungs struggling to capture oxygen. She lost the ability to speak and breathe on her own before she succumbed on June 15.
“I told her, ‘I’m here with you.’ I told her, ‘Soon God will get you out of this,'” José said of the last time she spoke with her mother, whom NBC News isn’t naming because of her immigration status. Four days later, José’s mother died alone in the hospital.
José’s sad situation is one that is increasingly common in this small city in the foothills of Appalachia on Tennessee’s border with Georgia. Hamilton County, where Chattanooga is located, recorded a single-day record