Family of Marcia Thomas hopes her death will remind people to stay safe at home

Marcia Thomas was on a good path this year. She was almost three years sober and was making amends with her family after years of struggles. She was living beside her brother, staying safe and healthy, and finally starting to smile more.

Then one night in late September she made a mistake in judgement that she would pay for with her life. Marcia decided to go visit some old friends who were not in her COVID bubble. She thought it was safe because they were her friends and none of them had the virus. Within a few days she was in hospital, and shortly after on life support. Marcia lost her battle with COVID-19 on November 25, and her family wants to share her story in hope that it will save lives.

“I just keep expecting her to come to the window next door to say good morning,” explains Marcia’s brother Jackson Dennis. “It’s hard to believe she’s gone.”

Jackson said losing his sister to COVID-19 has been hard on the whole family. Not only did it happen very fast, but they were not given an opportunity to say goodbye. Like so many fatal COVID cases once Marcia was hospitalized family could no longer visit her. Now that she has passed, they cannot have a service or gather to support each other because of the restrictions that are in place. Jackson said that makes it even worse.

“It’s the natural next step to say goodbye,” he explained. “This virus has taken that from us.”

Jackson said his sister was careful when it came to COVID restrictions, but she did let her guard down. She decided to go over to the apartment building where she used to live to visit old friends. She had been stopped drinking for almost three years, but that night she decided to go have a few drinks with her friends. The building where they lived did not have any COVID restrictions in place. People were free to come and go as they liked, and visitors were not restricted or asked to wear a mask.

Jackson blames a lack of protocol at the building for his sister’s exposure. He said more needs to be done to keep people safe. He also admits that everyone must be responsible for their own actions as well. He said the province is locking things down for a reason, and it’s time people started listening.

“It’s not in our power to change or bend the rules,” Jackson said. “We all have to do our part. This is serious.”

Even though none of Marcia’s friends from that night had COVID symptoms, they still passed the virus on to her. Marcia’s daughter Linnea Bowes said part of what makes this virus challenging is that you sometimes do not see it coming.

“My mum worked hard to stay safe, but here we are, mourning a huge loss,” she said. Linnea said for years she and her mother have struggled with their relationship. Alcohol got in the way and for much of her life Linnea had to protect herself by distancing from her mother. It was only in the last little bit that they managed to repair that relationship. Unfortunately, COVID has taken any hope she had of letting her mother get to know her children.

Linnea said her mother had underlying health issues that meant she was not strong enough to fight the virus. She said for that reason once she contracted the disease everything happened fast.

“We couldn’t visit her and could only do video chatting for a little while,” she said. “The last time we talked to her she was in the ICU, and then she was gone.”

Jackson said if he could give people one piece of advice it would be to not take chances.

“Nothing is worth the risk you are taking if you don’t follow the recommendations,” he said. “My sister just wanted to go see her friends, but it just wasn’t worth it.”

He wants people to see what his family is going through and learn from their loss. He wants people to stay home, only socialize with people in their own household, and wear a mask.

“This virus isn’t a joke, and we have to take it seriously,” he said.

Huu-ay-aht First Nations has had several citizens contract the disease. Fortunately, the Nation has lost only one person to COVID, but Chief Councillor Robert J. Dennis Sr. said that is one too many.

“We need our citizens to take this seriously,” he said. “My family has lost someone due to this virus, and I don’t want another family to suffer the same loss.”

He asks people to follow the restrictions. He also said it is especially important that people stay home and follow the non-essential travel ban. He said at this time visitors are not welcome in Anacla. With the holidays just around the corner, he admits this will be difficult. He wants citizens to stay in their own community and only have contact with the people in their household.

“We hear a lot about what we can do to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but in order to make a difference, everyone has to do their part,” he said. “Our Nation has lost one too many people to this virus. I pray we don’t lose anymore.”

British Columbia currently has the following restrictions in place related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • No social gatherings at your residence beyond your household
  • No social gatherings of any size in public places
  • Your core bubble should consist of only the people in your household. If you live alone, you must keep your bubble to one or two people
  • Masks are mandatory in all public spaces
  • No adult indoor or outdoor sports permitted, youth sports must follow restrictions in place, including no travel
  • All non-essential travel is to be avoided – essential travel includes regular travel for work within your region and travel for things like medical appointments
  • People should also clean your hands regularly, avoid touching your face, and keep a safe distance from others