North Carolina couple married for 61 years dies of COVID-19 minutes apart, holding hands

U.S. and World

COATS, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina reached another grim milestone Wednesday with a record 98 new deaths from COVID-19.

To date, 5,979 people in the state have died from the virus. Sherwood Pope and his wife, Doris are among them.

“She loved that man and he loved her,” Shelton Pope, their youngest son, said.

They were married for 61 years.

“Mom and dad was, was all about family. Where you seen one you seen the other,” he explained. “They would do anything for anyone.”

Shelton said his mother started feeling sick after Thanksgiving. She tested positive for COVID-19 and soon she could barely breathe. Sherwood soon tested positive as well.

Both were taken to UNC Rex Hospital, where their hospital beds were moved next to one another.

They died Monday.

“It was the hardest thing anybody had to do … They passed away holding hands. Apparently, dad left first, and she was a minute or two later,” Shelton said.

The couple is representative of what North Carolina is seeing in case demographics. A look at death by race shows 63% of those who have died are white, according to the state’s dashboard, and 28% are Black or African American.

In terms of age, those 75 or older make up 59% of deaths. Those between 65 and 74 comprise 23% of fatalities. That trend has been consistent since March.

“You always have thoughts of losing a parent. You know, you dread that day, and then here we are. We lost both of them at the same time,” Shelton said.

Sherwood and Doris Pope will be laid to rest Thursday.

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