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Granddaughter of COVID-19 patient in nursing home speaks out

Elaine Lathrum's 93-year-old grandmother, who lives in a nursing home, was diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this month.

DES MOINES, Iowa — 45-year-old Elaine Lathrum has one grandmother left in 93-year-old Della Bebber.  Della lives in a nursing home in Des Moines, and earlier this month, Elaine and her family got the call they'd been dreading: Della had tested positive for COVID-19.

The facility Della lives in has been on lockdown for weeks.  All in all, there have been outbreaks at 36 different long-term care facilities across the state, and nearly 1,500 residents have tested positive for the coronavirus.

The news of her grandmother's infection was hard on Elaine and her family, especially since they got it in the middle of what was supposed to be a very happy time.

"It was very difficult because we found out on the weekend that my daughter was supposed to graduate from college," Elaine said.  "So here we are, trying to be one big happy family, and my mom has to tell everyone that our grandmother is positive for COVID-19."

And the last few weeks haven't been easier on the family, as Della battles the virus.

"When you've had somebody who has always looked out for you, it's really really difficult to do that," Elaine said.  "I love my grandmother with all my heart. It's been really tormenting for our family to not be able to see her physically."

Della's 93rd birthday was spent in her tiny room in the nursing home, with her family at her window.  Della has since tested negative for COVID-19, which is certainly good news, but the family still worries.

"We just don't know what's going to happen next," Elaine said.  "That's a huge worry on everyone's minds."

Elaine says tries to stay positive, and has one message for her grandmother:

"I want her to know I never left her side. Ever."

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