The number of deaths as a result of the coronavirus continues to climb, and it's taking people of all ages. Washington state resident Sundee Rutter was only 42 when she died of the virus on Mar. 16, and her six children were only able to say goodbye to her via a walkie-talkie.
As BuzzFeed News reports, Rutter was recovering from a battle with breast cancer when she was among the first wave of people diagnosed with COVID-19 in Washington state. "She thought she had the flu, probably," her 20-year-old son, Elijah Ross-Rutter said, explaining that she took herself to Providence Regional Medical Center on Mar. 3. "But like, the coronavirus? It was kind of hard for us to understand how she could get it because not that many people had it around here."
When Rutter was first diagnosed with the virus, there were only 27 cases and nine deaths in the state. However, those numbers have since risen to over 5,000 confirmed cases and 217 deaths. Her children noted it was particularly difficult for them not being able to see her once she was diagnosed with the virus, which stood in contrast to her battle with cancer, in which they were there every step of the way.
On Mar. 16, the family was told they needed to come to the hospital. They wanted to say their goodbyes, but were not allowed to go inside the same room as her for fear of contamination. "I told her I love her... She shouldn't worry about the kids," Elijah said. And that's when they said their farewells to her through a small window and over walkie-talkies.
The family has received over $275,000 in donations since they told their story. "“Like it’s crazy how much love and support we’ve been receiving from the community,” Elijah added. “It kind of goes to show how big of an impact my mom had on our community. She was a supermom, you know?”