One North Texas woman is warning other families to take COVID-19 precautions seriously after losing her husband to the virus.
“We were on a mission trip where we construct homes for the homeless in Mexico,” recalled Kathy Palomino.
Kathy said her husband, Frank Palomino, grew up very poor, so he learned to help the less fortunate. The COVID-19 pandemic almost had them cancel their October mission trip to Mexico.
“And that’s when, before we went to Mexico, I said, ‘Should we really go because of COVID and everything? Maybe we should just stay home,’ and he said, ‘No, there’s two families waiting for a house and they have children. We just can’t let them down.’ And so we went ahead and went,” Kathy said.
But shortly after the couple returned to their Hunt County home, they tested positive for the coronavirus, along with a dozen others from the trip.
“So, he got it a few days later, seemed to recover, but after 10 days of recovery, all of a sudden, he started having trouble with his breathing. And as it happens with some people, unfortunately, it just took over his lungs, gave him pneumonia, and he just couldn’t come back from it,” she explained.
Frank was 67 years old. His wife said he was healthy. He ran marathons, but the last words he spoke to her were from a hospital bed.
“He was telling me do something, ‘I’m going to have to go on a ventilator,’ and then he panicked and they had to sedate him and put him on a ventilator,” Kathy recalled.
Two weeks later, Frank was gone. He died Sunday, Nov. 15.
“I had to go in there, with full PPE, and hold his hand with a rubber glove on, but they did let me in,” Kathy said. “When I knew that he was probably going to pass, I was holding his hand and I played him a Vince Gill song, ‘Go Rest High on that Mountain,’ and he passed during the song.”
Kathy said they wore masks and took the virus seriously, but looking back, she knows they could’ve done more.
Kathy messaged FOX 4’s Steve Eager as part of his Viewer’s Voice segment on Thursday, pleading for people to learn from her family’s tragedy.
She wrote: ‘I’m watching stories about mask fatigue and the seriousness of COVID with my husband’s ashes at my side. He passed away Sunday. Does anybody have any questions about COVID-19?”
“He pretty early on told me to start making him a will, so he must’ve felt really bad,” Kathy added.
They were married for 22 years. Frank leaves behind five children. He’s one of 18 siblings.
“He felt fine until he started having shortness of breath and some fever,” Kathy recalled.
Looking back, Kathy said traveling, while with good intentions, wasn’t the best decision. Now, she said take it from her family.
“Don’t let your guard down, and even if someone tells you, ‘Oh, it’s only 1% of those affected die.’ Well, who would you choose to be the 1%? You could not,” Kathy said.