LEXINGTON, SC — To those who knew her best, Ashley Bennett was put on this world to be a mother.
At 36, Bennett was a mother of 10 children, ranging in age from 18 years to 2 weeks old. Her older sister, Courtney Bucknam, described her to WLTX as “amazing.”
“Her world circulated around her children,” Bucknam said during a separate interview with WIS. “She absolutely loved them.”
Bennett was 34 weeks pregnant and preparing for the birth of her youngest child when she, her husband Darryl, and all their children tested positive for coronavirus.
Everyone but Bennett recovered.
After an emergency delivery of daughter Eliza on Jan. 1, Bennett’s children lost their mother to COVID-19 just seven days later.
Bucknam told WLTX that Bennett had a blood clot that led to a stroke. She was intubated and underwent surgery, but passed on January 8.
She never got to hold Eliza.
“She was an amazing person,” Bucknam told WLTX. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help offset expenses for Bennett’s husband and kids.
“If we can learn anything from this, it’s that COVID is so serious, and we need to truly take precautions because she was only 36. She had no underlying conditions, and she was gone basically within 10 days,” Bucknam said. “It can happen to anybody.”
GoFundMe is a Patch promotional partner.
As the weekend comes to a close, the United States has reached 25 million confirmed cases of coronavirus. Totals from Johns Hopkins University show the country reached the number late Sunday morning.
With about 4 percent of the world’s population, the United States has accounted for about a quarter of the confirmed coronavirus cases across the globe.
Cases and deaths continue to climb, and one public health expert called the milestone an “incredible scale of tragedy.”
It took the United States about nine months to hit 10 million cases — that milestone was passed on Nov. 8 — but a post-Thanksgiving surge prompted infections to climb at an unprecedented and overwhelming speed.
By the last day of 2020, just seven weeks later, the country had added another 10 million cases.
As the caseload climbs past 25 million, more states are reporting their first cases of the B.1.1.7 coronavirus variant that was first discovered — and now spreading — in the United Kingdom.
All athletic games and practices have been canceled indefinitely at the University of Michigan after the variant was found in five athletes. Washington state is among the other states to have reported its first variant cases in recent days.
In many areas, hospitals remain strained due to the virus.
An Associated Press analysis of federal hospital data shows that since November, the share of U.S. hospitals nearing the breaking point has doubled. More than 40 percent of Americans now live in areas running out of ICU space, with only 15 percent of beds still available.
In the White House, President Joe Biden is spending the first days of his presidency trying to get the virus under control and lessen the toll it’s taking on pandemic-weary Americans.
On Friday, Biden signed two more executive orders aimed at curbing the economic damage inflicted by the coronavirus crisis and feeding those suffering from pandemic-induced hunger.
One of the orders calls for a 15 percent increase in benefits received by low-income students through the Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer program. It also calls for expanded eligibility for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, more commonly known as food stamps.
“The American people can’t afford to wait,” Brian Deese, the National Economic Council director, said during a Friday news conference. “And so many are hanging by a thread. They need help, and we are committed to doing everything we can to provide that help as quickly as possible.”
In Friday’s actions, Biden also called for the Office of Personnel Management to develop recommendations to pay more federal employees at least $15 per hour.
Biden is moving with lightning speed to address the pandemic that has infected more than million Americans and claimed more than 415,000 lives in the United States.
Possibly among those hundreds of thousands was legendary broadcaster and talk show host Larry King, who died Saturday at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. He was 87 years old.
A statement issued by Ora Media, the company he helped found in 2012, did not specifically cite the cause of death for the Brooklyn native and longtime nationally syndicated radio host; however, he was hospitalized at Cedars-Sinai last month after testing positive for coronavirus.
King, host of “Larry King Live” on CNN, conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews, according to The Associated Press. He was an enduring on-air personality who set himself apart with the curiosity be brought to every interview.
Larry King, Radio Host And Broadcasting Legend, Dies At 87
Meanwhile, at least 150 National Guard members sent to Washington, D.C. to provide Inauguration Day security following the deadly Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol have tested positive for coronavirus, according to a report by Reuters.
In a statement to Reuters, the National Guard said it would not discuss the cases, though a source who spoke to the publication said as many as 200 guard members could be infected and that the number could very likely grow.
More than 25,000 National Guard members were deployed to D.C. in the days leading up to Biden’s inaugural. About 7,000 are expected to remain in the city through the end of the month.
In the South, Texas is becoming the latest state to run out of coronavirus vaccines, according to a Times report.
Dr. Esmaeil Porsa, the chief executive of Harris Health System, which treats thousands of mostly uninsured patients, warned on Friday that its entire vaccine supply could be depleted by midday Saturday.
The problem is not capability, he told the Times — it’s availability.
Health officials in Texas and other states are struggling to get answers, growing desperate as inoculation sites cancel thousands of appointments due to long-anticipated vaccines that are suddenly in short supply.
In South Carolina, a hospital in Beaufort had to cancel 6,000 vaccine appointments after it received only 450 of the doses it had expected. In Hawaii, a Maui hospital canceled 5,000 first-dose appointments and placed 15,000 additional requests for appointments on hold, according to The Times.
In other news, Dr. Anthony Fauci is back.
In truth, the nation’s leading infectious-diseases expert never really went away. But after enduring nearly a year of darts and undermining comments from now-former President Donald Trump, Fauci now speaks with the authority of the White House again.
During a news conference Thursday, he called it “liberating” to be backed by a science-friendly administration that has embraced his recommendations to battle COVID-19.
“One of the new things in this administration is, if you don’t know the answer, don’t guess,” Fauci said in one pointed observation during a White House briefing. “Just say you don’t know the answer.”
Fauci Unleashed: Doc Takes ‘Liberating’ Turn At Center Stage
Also in Washington, D.C., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Friday quietly changed its immunization guidelines, specifically targeting the second dose of the long-awaited coronavirus vaccine.
According to a New York Times report, the CDC altered guidance to allow those receiving the shot to switch from one vaccine to another in “exceptional situations.” This means if someone received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine, in some cases, they may be able to receive a second dose produced by another pharmaceutical company.
At least 839 deaths and 79,141 new cases of coronavirus were reported in the United States on Sunday as of 2 p.m. ET, according to a Washington Post database. The Post’s reporting shows that over the past week, new daily cases fell 21.1 percent, new daily deaths fell 7.4 percent an COVID-19-related hospitalizations fell 9.3 percent.
Currently, 113,609 people are hospitalized with a coronavirus-related illness in the United States, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
As of Sunday, 42 states and U.S. territories remained above the positive testing rate recommended by the World Health Organization to safely reopen. To safely reopen, the WHO recommends states remain at 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days.
As of Sunday afternoon, the United States had reported more than 25 million cases and more than 418,300 deaths from COVID-19-related illnesses, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.
Stay up to date on the latest coronavirus news via The New York Times or The Washington Post.
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