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Same day a Tucson man dies from COVID complications, brother receives vaccine

Posted at 3:39 PM, Dec 18, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-18 20:16:31-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — December 15, the day the Oxford family lost Joe to complications with coronavirus; and the day Joe’s brother, James, received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Joe was 55. He was a heart transplant recipient, having received one five years ago, but also going back and forth from the hospital with rejection issues. Unfortunately his wife, Josie, lost her job and benefits due to the pandemic. Therefore, Joe was unable to take the medication needed to counter the rejection he was having.

“Everybody got laid off because of the virus, so I lost my insurance, I tried to apply to Access, but they wouldn’t help me,” said Josie.

Shortly after getting better and coming home from a month-long stay at the hospital, he developed a cough and COVID-like symptoms. A few days later, the family also felt symptoms. His daughter, Miranda, was the first to get tested. Her results were positive for COVID.

“Our stomachs literally sank. My dad kind of said that he had a fear that we might have it because he mentioned, I guess there was a nurse at the rehab who had been coughing in his room. So he was afraid that it might be that,” said Miranda.

The day after Miranda tested positive, Joe’s health declined.

“He literally coded in the ambulance on the way to Banner, and then they brought him back. But once he hit the tram center, he coded again and they could not bring him back,” said Miranda.

The family’s main message amid their grief: to take COVID serious.

“Just these past two weeks, our life just completely changed upside down because someone who worked in healthcare was sick, said Brandon, Joe’s son.

James, a nurse in Nebraska, received the COVID-19 vaccine hours after hearing the news of his brother’s passing. He did contemplate cancelling his vaccine appointment.

“But I decided, you know what, Joe died of COVID. He was, even before he knew that he had it, he was serious about that people knew that that the virus wasn't a hoax and he really wanted people to get the vaccine. So I thought, what a way to honor him to actually go forth and get that vaccine as scheduled,” said James.

James had the nurse who administered the shot write “For Joe” on the bandage.

“The shot that I got, I had a sore shoulder for about a half a day and that was the only thing. But this is a real problem and unfortunately, there's a lot of misinformation out there,” said James.

“He just wanted everybody to be knowledgeable about what’s going on in this world, especially this virus. He was so scared about getting this virus, and we never thought he was going to get it. We always promised we were going to do everything in our power to protect him, whatever we could do. We never thought he could get it,” said Miranda.

Click here to visit the family's GoFundMe page to help cover funereal expenses.