Joplin woman urging others to take precautions after losing her husband to COVID-19

Mary Jo Martin and her husband Doug were married for 33 years.
Doug Martin

JOPLIN, Mo. – Mary Jo Martin and her husband Doug were married for 33 years.

They moved to Joplin about 5 years ago.

“He’s that calm, flat, that steady person, that rock person that everyone depends on and the entire family leaned on.”

Doug suffered from Huntington’s disease and reoccurring bouts of cancer, which made him even more vulnerable to contracting COVID-19.

But Mary Jo did what she could to protect the both of them, and they were fine for 9 months. She says things went downhill once COVID-19 cases started to spike again in the area and members of the community began fighting back on mask ordinances and regulations.

“It started out with I got a UV light which disinfects your phones, I got a UV wand that can disinfect anything else, lots of hand sanitizer that’s the biggie, different kinds of different sprays and wipes and stuff decontaminating everything.”

In October she developed viral myocarditis but her COVID-19 tests showed as negative, though she now believes it was a form of COVID that she had contracted. Two weeks later she and Doug started showing symptoms of a cold.

“I was in the hospital so god knows what I was exposed to, but with him going in and out of the cancer center every week for chemotherapy, you can’t disinfect every surface that people come in contact with, it’s just impossible which is why it’s so important people take the precautions that we need” added Mary Jo.

They believed their cold symptoms were that of just a cold, they developed respiratory issues but eventually got better from it. That was until Doug started to get worse and ended up testing positive for COVID and was hospitalized. She believes that the consistent chemotherapy visits to the cancer center and being around others to do so is how he contracted the virus.

And his condition only continued to decline.

“He actually used the word abandonment as he’s so used to me being there. Things continued to progress downhill, he went into the intensive care unit, so we had to have the discussion whether he wanted to go on the ventilator or not and he decided he did not want to…so he passed on the 10th of December.”

A loss that has left her with despair, but also a determination to make others see how serious this virus is.

“It’s been hard, and I want to make sure it doesn’t happen to somebody else. Him being hospitalized for COVID was the worst thing in my life because he needed me, and I could not be there with him. I don’t want other people to have to go through that.”

She is urging others to take precautions, like following CDC guidelines, wearing a mask, social distancing and disinfecting things you come into contact with.

“It’s not just people with underlying conditions, yes we are at higher risk, yes we took extra precautions because of that but look at your own family and your own circle of friends, is everyone completely healthy in that family or friends, I can almost guarantee not, there’s going to be somebody that’s got some underlying condition that puts them at some kind of risk and do you want to be the one who puts them in the hospital or puts them in their grave?”

Doug was only 57 years old when he passed.

“I was hoping that by actually putting a face with one of the COVID deaths and maybe having other people actually put faces to them, it might make people think it’s not just a number, it’s actual people.”