Families feeling the impact of COVID-19 spreading through Wellington

Published: Sep. 2, 2021 at 10:43 PM CDT
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WELLINGTON, Kan. (KWCH) - On Wednesday night at Wellington’s School Board meeting, a local pastor addressed the board.

“First week, he came down with COVID, then subsequently went home, his mother was infected, his niece was infected, and one of the other family members,” said Friendly Second Baptist Church Pastor Paul Carr.

He spoke to what his congregation was experiencing as COVID-19 was spreading through the community.

“When you have two-year-old children that are in the hospital, fighting for their lives because there was no mask mandate, then that became a problem for me.” He said, “Being concerned for my community, as well as my parishioners, I want to make sure everybody is safe.”

The school board ended the night by requiring masks when students return to class on September 7th as part of a tiered plan.

Thursday, we followed up with Pastor Carr, who introduced us to a member of his congregation and associate pastor whose family has been hit by the latest COVID-19 surge in the community.

“Everybody pray, and to me, that’s what brought them through,” said Mary Eathely.

Friendly Second Baptist Church in Wellington is Eathley’s second home and a source of constant comfort, more so than usual for the last few weeks.

“Until people start changing their minds and start realizing how serious this is, we’re going to keep burying people,” she said.

Her family has been feeling the ramifications of spreading COVID-19 cases throughout the community.

Eathely said, “To me, it was almost like turning water on. It just went that fast through the community.”

There’s been snowballing cases the Wellington School District saw the first couple of weeks school started.

“I have three grandkids that go to school here, two different schools, the high school and one of the grade schools, and they all got COVID,” she said.

As the virus made its way through the community, more members of her family got infected. Eathely said Thursday she’s been helping four of her family’s households buy groceries and other quarantine needs.

One of the impacts has been on two young family members.

“Granddaughter who is a nurse, and she’s also been in quarantine because she caught COVID-19,” Eathely said, “Her daughter that’s two years old also caught COVID-19.”

Her two-year-old great-granddaughter required hospitalization after her infections.

“She was a preemie baby, you know, in the NIC Unit and her system fights against itself,” Eathely said.

She also has a four-year-old great-niece who needed to be hospitalized.

Eathely said, “Six, seven days in ICU, and we were seeing on Facebook the way she was breathing and everything. She could have died.”

Both of the kids are now back home recovering.

“It’s very heartbreaking because it’s not just the older people who are dying. The babies are dying now,” Eathely said.

Eathely said she is relieved by the decision of the school board Wednesday night to require masks when students return to school next week but said more needs to be done throughout the community to address the spread of COVID-19 better.

“It’s all because they won’t wear these masks. I mean, what is it going to take. It’s is going to take someone dying in each of the families to make them wake up and realize this is serious,” said Eathely.

She said this weekend, her congregation will have a funeral for a close long-time friend who passed away from COVID-19. She said she wants people to get the vaccine if they can and wear a mask.

“It’s scary; it really is because I just don’t know anymore. Who is going to die next?”

At the school board meeting, some parents did seek Wellington Schools to find alternatives to masking requirements.

Wellington Schools closed down on Aug. 26 after experiencing 40 COVID-19 cases and testing 200 students a day. The district has about 1,500 students.

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