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Opinion: If I can Manage a Safe Funeral for my Mom, Gov. Abbott Should be Able to Keep Texas Safe

Dear Gov. Greg Abbott,

I write to invite you to the burial of my mother, Isabelle Odette Papadimitriou. She was one of the 525 Dallas County residents who have died so far from COVID-19. Despite having a loving family and many friends, she died alone less than one week after testing positive for coronavirus. She had no known underlying health conditions. She was 64 years old. She died on July 4, Independence Day.

She will be memorialized at 2:30 p.m. Thursday at Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church in Dallas. Then she will be transported nearly 600 miles south to her hometown of Brownsville so she can be buried on July 27 at Roselawn Memorial Gardens.

My mother, a respiratory therapist, told my brother on June 28 that she wasn’t feeling well. The day before, she took note of her symptoms in a journal: “Dizziness, lightheaded, chills, body aches, huge headache, shaking and drowsy and a fever at 100.8 degrees. All at once at 10:30 p.m.” She spent all of that day and the next looking for an appointment at a COVID-19 testing site. She finally found one and confirmed she was positive for coronavirus.

On July 1 she wrote: “This was not a good day. I had a fever of 102 in the evening. I spent most of my day in bed. I rotate to drain the lungs, side to side and stomach to back.” She could barely eat.

The next day, she wrote: “July 2, 2020. Still not feeling well today. I have lots of coughing this morning. Feel weak.” This was my mom’s last entry.

She waved off our family’s suggestions to go to the hospital, as she knew it was at capacity. Unfortunately, by the time my brother called the ambulance to help her, it was too late. When they reached the hospital, my mother had already lost her pulse at least three times. The doctors said it would be a miracle if she survived.

My mother likely contracted the virus at the hospital where she worked during the period when your Executive Order No. GA-18 forbade local governments from implementing their own safety measures, such as mandating the wearing of masks, to protect the public and health care workers from the spread of COVID-19. There is no doubt that poor policy and terrible leadership were responsible for her death. Other states and countries have managed to slow their spread by implementing simple policy measures such as mask-wearing. Texas has recently reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases a day — more than any European country had at the height of its outbreak.

As hospital beds filled up across the state, you finally issued a statewide mask order on July 2 — too late to help my mother. There will be far more deaths of Texans than there needed to be. Your inaction and active denial of the devastation from COVID-19 has made it clear that the people dying, and the families they’re leaving behind, are just numbers to you. As of Monday, 4,020 people had died from COVID-19 in Texas — 4,020 lives that mattered. My mother mattered.

I invite you to her burial to witness our family mourning this incredible woman who gave her life to save others. You will see that we are unable to even hug each other in our grief because my brother tested positive for COVID-19 the day my mother died. Due to the virus, we are limiting the number of guests at the service, mandating everyone wear masks, keeping households six feet apart, and having hand sanitization on site. If I can manage a safe funeral, you can manage a safe state and prevent these unnecessary tragedies.

Tulip is a sales and marketing specialist who lives in Brooklyn.

Fiana Garza Tulip
Fiana Garza Tulip
Fiana Garza Tulip, born and raised in Texas, graduated from the University of Texas in 2002. Now, she lives with her husband, Charlie, and daughter, Lua, in Brooklyn, NY where she runs her own sales/marketing consulting business.


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