WAYNE COUNTY, Iowa — Three weeks.
That's how long it took for Mike Wolfe, 66, to die from COVID-19. He left behind his wife Sondra, his five children and 19 grandchildren.
Mike is remembered as a dedicated family and community man. For 30 years, he entertained kids during Christmas as Santa Claus, bringing joy to those that brought him joy.
He contracted the virus about a month ago, and his condition declined quickly. He eventually needed an ambulance to get to the hospital for treatment.
Sondra thought she would have another 20 years with her husband.
"Before he left, gave him a hug and told him I love him," Sondra told Local 5. "And that was the last time that we got to talk in person where he could talk back to me."
Sondra shared her and her husband's story through social media, hoping to change the minds of at least a few people. Health officials in Wayne County have come forward with their concerns on their residents.
Public Health Administrator Shelley Bickel spoke with Local 5 just last week about her concerns.
"I don't think people are listening. I think people think they've become the experts or they're the epidemiologist or they know better than we do," Bickel said. "It's frustrating and we know at a point we can't keep up with the cases or the contact tracing. We only have eight employees in our office."
"There's so many people in denial and think it's no big deal that you're going to get a little cold and it's no big deal they're dismissing the deaths; that it's no big deal that nearly 200,000 families in our country alone are going through the same things we're going through. The pain," Sondra said.
"These people's lives matter. They matter to their families."
Sondra's post has been shared more than a thousand times, telling the heartbreaking story of how Mike fought the virus.
The post is working, Sondra said.
"I've talked to people starting to reach, who are changing what they're doing. Wear a mask, keep their distance, starting to make some changes," she said.
"The mask doesn't protect you. It protects other people. If everyone would wear their mask, we could slow this down until we get something to help."
Sondra's message is simple and to the point: wear a mask.
"Wear a mask, social distance, wash your hands, hand sanitize. You can live your life, you just have to be careful."
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