Widow reflects as Kansas surpasses 1,000 COVID-19 deaths

Joanna Wilson October 2020
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LENEXA, Kan. — It's been seven months since Joanna Wilson lost her husband, Dennis, because of COVID-19.

"Grief is tough," Joanna Wilson told 41 Action News on Wednesday. "It's hard, and then it hits you any time of the day, and every day it hits you. You don't go a day without it. I think of him every minute of every day."

The passing of the beloved teacher marked the first coronavirus death in Johnson County.

"He had suffered a lot through it – they told me his last hours and minutes were of huge suffering," Joanna said.

And now, more than 1,000 Kansans have lost their battle against the virus.

"The state did not reach 500 COVID deaths until September, roughly six months after the pandemic began," Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon. "It took a little over six weeks for another 500 Kansans to die."

RELATED: Wife of 1st Johnson County resident to die due to COVID-19 shares his story

With this grim milestone, Joanna took to Facebook to beg people to follow the simple guidelines – "to wear a mask, social distance and be smart in gatherings."

"Don't go running around with a positive test," Joanna said, "and that's what, you know, some have done. But stay in, spare others."

RELATED: Kansas City families put national COVID-19 death toll into perspective

Joanna, who herself fought COVID-19 for more than a month, is a registered nurse and said she worries about the toll the pandemic will take on health care workers as it continues.

"They're going to be dealing with PTSD because not just the overwhelming workload, but the emotional drain it has been on them to watch the horror in these people," she said. "As they care for them, they decline and then they die."