A Florida mother died from COVID-19 this week, less than a month after her 19-year-old son was also claimed by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, officials said Tuesday.
The deaths of Jacqueline and Jordan Byrd have taken a particularly hard toll on employees at Fort Braden School, about 15 miles west of the state capital of Tallahassee, Leon County Schools spokesman Chris Petley told NBC News.
Jordan Byrd was a part-time custodian at that grades K-8 campus and Jacqueline Byrd, 55, had once been employed at that same school, according to Petley.
Jacqueline Byrd died on Monday and her son on July 19.
Let our news meet your inbox. The news and stories that matters, delivered weekday mornings.
“To my heart I will definitely miss you‼️ You and Jordan Byrd have both left me,” brother and son Jacary Byrd wrote on Facebook on Monday. “I know that you both are having a good time in the Lord. Mommy I will definitely miss you.”
One week after Jordan Byrd passed away, the mother of his girlfriend also lost her life to COVID-19. Karen Bradwell, 53, had been the director of after-school programs at Fort Braden School.
“This just shows how this is spreading throughout our community,” Petley said.
Florida has been struggling for months to control the spread of the coronavirus.
More than 17 percent of Floridians testing for the virus have come back positive, according to a rolling seven-day average compiled by Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organization has set a benchmark of 5 percent for local governments to consider relaxation of social-distancing mandates.
Despite the ongoing pandemic, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has aggressively pushed for campuses to reopen.
Leon County schools are scheduled to reopen on Aug. 31.
“We continue to keep the Bradwell and Byrd families in our thoughts and prayers as they and the entire Ft. Braden Community come to grips with this tragic situation,” Leon County Schools Superintendent Rocky Hanna said in a statement Tuesday.
Pam Saulsby, a spokeswoman for the state health department in Leon County, declined to discuss the deaths connected to Fort Braden School.
“We offer our sincere condolences to all of the families who have lost loved ones as a result of COVID-19,” she said in a statement. “We continue to urge Floridians to follow best practices for preventing the spread of COVID-19. That means keeping your distance from others, wearing a mask, practicing good hand hygiene and staying home if you are sick.”
David K. Li
Mohammed Syed contributed.