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Druid Hills woman who lost dad to COVID helping organize COVID-19 awareness event

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Druid Hills woman who lost dad to COVID helping organize COVID-19 awareness event

Tracy Mau, RN takes a specimen at the DeKalb County Board of Health COVID-19 testing site located in the parking lot of The Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church in Atlanta, July 21, 2020. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Atlanta, GA — Druid Hills resident Tanya Washington lost her father earlier this year to COVID-19, despite him being fully vaccinated. He followed COVID-19 protocols, but an unvaccinated coworker exposed him to the deadly California variant of the virus, Washington said.

She is encouraging everyone to get the vaccine. She’s also partnering with COVID Survivors for Change, The Yellow Heart Memorial and Faces of COVID Victims in honor of National COVID-19 Awareness Day on Saturday, Aug. 7.

“My dad brought joy and love to everyone. He was an incredible storyteller, always had a joke and made everyone he met feel special,” Washington said. “In the days after his death, I pledged to honor my father’s life by educating people and sharing his story in hopes that others never experience my heartbreak.”

Washington said her father’s story illustrates why it’s important that everyone take the COVID-19 vaccine.

“My dad was exposed by an unvaccinated/unmasked woman in his office,” she said. “Because she wasn’t vaccinated, she had a very high viral load in her system and spread a variant to my elderly father. This is exactly why we need to encourage everyone to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated will protect yourself and others around you. The COVID-19 vaccination is a safe way to help build protection, so I beg people to please think of others. Please protect the elderly and vulnerable population. I promise, no one wants to see their loved one die of COVID-19. Watching my dad suffer this way has changed my life forever.”

Those participating in the Aug. 7 event will gather in Atlanta at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree St NE, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to honor the lives of every family member and friend people have lost to the pandemic.

“We are promoting the COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to awareness of this terrible virus,” Washington said. “There will be people sharing their stories – who have lost a loved one to COVID, long haulers and pro vaccination health officials.

Organizers are planning to march around the block. State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver will be in attendance.

“I was contacted and asked to be a leader in Georgia to bring awareness about COVID,” Washington said. “I worked with infectious disease in [South Carolina] in reference to my dad’s case.”

COVID Survivors for Change, Yellow Heart Memorial, Faces of COVID Victims, and other groups are partnering together in August to march and gather in cities and towns across the country to remember those lost to COVID and to raise awareness about the ongoing needs of COVID-19 survivors, according to a press release.

The groups are advocating for COVID-19 survivors to be prioritized in the American Rescue Plan and that direct funding should go to programs for those suffering from the after effects of the virus and families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19.

“Support should be directed to continued health care access, mental health resources, and workplace flexibility for the millions of Americans affected by COVID-19,” the press release states.

The groups would like to see support for children who had a loved one die from COVID-19, especially parents. They are advocating for financial support and scholarships to assist surviving children with higher education in the future.

Lastly, the organizations want to ensure that this pandemic never happens again and are advocating for the formation of a bipartisan commission to learn critical lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that the physical and economic toll of the next pandemic is greatly lessened, according to a press release.

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