A man whose brother and sister-in-law died of COVID-19 last month has slammed people who have called their deaths ‘fake news’.
Mike Mitchem told the story of his brother, Kevin, and Kevin’s wife, Misty, to NBC Washington earlier this month.
Kevin, 48, and Misty, 46, were both unvaccinated, and had believed misinformation about the virus and the vaccine.
The couple died from Covid in September, with both expressing regrets about not getting vaccinated before his death, his family told NBC Washington.
They are survived by five children, Riley, 17; Leah, 14; twins Taylor and Aiden, 11; and Angel, 22, a child from Kevin’s previous relationship.
Now, Mike tells the Washington Post that he has had people reach out to him to tell him his family’s story is ‘fake news’.
Kevin and Misty Mitchem (pictured) were high school sweethearts that both died of COVID-19 in September. Both were unvaccinated despite pleas from their family to get the shots. Kevin’s brother, Mike, reports that he has received messages claiming their story was ‘fake news’
Kevin (pictured) expressed regrets in his decision to not get vaccinated to his family before his death. His parents are both fully vaccinated and have received their booster shots
‘Why would the media make up a story this tragic?’ Mike told the Post.
‘I would give anything for it to not be true, just to have my brother back.’
Kevin and Misty were high school sweethearts from Stafford County, Virginia, around 50 miles from Washington D.C.
Misty was diabetic, putting her at an increased risk of suffering complications from the virus.
Still, she did not receive the vaccine despite pleas from family and friends to get the jab.
‘Both our families have been turned upside down,’ Mike told the Richmond Times-Dispatch earlier this month.
‘The kids are the main thing. His oldest daughter just had a son, and I’m sure she wanted him to get close with his grandfather, and that’s not gonna happen now.’
After their parents’ deaths, the four younger children went to live with an aunt and uncle in South Carolina, according to Mike.
Mike says Kevin developed a cough last month and went to an urgent care facility in Stafford County.
He was sent home with cold medicine. Kevin returned to the urgent care facility a few days later after he wasn’t feeling any better, his brother said.
NBC Washington says Kevin then tested positive for COVID-19. Days later, Misty started feeling ill.
She was sent to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she was treated for COVID-19.
Misty’s health deteriorated quite rapidly. Within days of her hospitalization, she was unable to breathe on her own and was put on a ventilator.
Doctors also said that her kidneys were only functioning at 50 percent, according to NBC Washington.
The next day, Kevin was admitted to the same hospital. By the time he was taken in for treatment, the family was told that Misty might have fewer than 24 hours to live.
Misty died on September 23 – just days after the onset of her symptoms.
Kevin (pictured) died from complications related to COVID-19 on October 8
Kevin’s father Don rushed to the hospital to try to speak to his son before he was put on a ventilator.
‘He said, “Dad, I’m scared to death,”‘ Don recalled to NBC Washington.
‘I told him to call his mom.’
Kevin then called his mother, Terry Mitchem.
‘He called me up and said, “Mom, I love you and I wish that I’d got the shot,”‘ Terry said.
‘Of course I told him: “It’s past. You can’t do anything about it.”‘
Kevin died on October 8. At one point during his treatment, he appeared to be improving, but the coronavirus inflicted too much damage on his lungs, according to NbC
His brother, Mike, told Richmond Times-Dispatch that Kevin was a healthy person before COVID.
‘He never smoked, never drank, didn’t do drugs, didn’t have diabetes, wasn’t overweight, was a heavy equipment operator, did a lot of highway work,’ Mike said.
‘He worked every day. He was always working, always outside, always doing something. Very active.’
‘My brother was healthy. He was still pretty much young and he had everything to live for.
Mike said that his brother and his sister-in-law refused to get vaccinated even though the family was urging them to do so.
‘They’d just been leery. They were going off what they’ve been hearing and reading on the internet,’ he said.
Misty and Kevin are survived by five children, four of which are now living with extended family in South Carolina. Mike’s parents, Don and Terry, are urging others to get vaccinated to protect themselves
Don and Terry, who have each had their booster shots, said they tried in vain to convince Kevin to get vaccinated.
Mike said he was angry about vaccine misinformation that likely cost the lives of his brother and his wife.
‘Part of our pain is anger,’ he said.
‘Anger because people are still not getting the vaccine. If you think about it, you need to have certain vaccines before you can even go to school.
‘What’s the big deal about this one?’
One relative, Rachael Rhodes, Mike’s daughter-in-law, works as a nurse practitioner specializing in family medicine.
She said she encouraged all of her relatives to get vaccinated.
‘It’s incredibly frustrating to be a medical provider right now with all the misinformation being spread online,’ Rhodes told the Times-Dispatch.
‘It’s become very discouraging to hear reasons why vaccines are being declined by patients/people.
‘It’s gotten to the point where it’s not even worth the discussion anymore because it’s completely unrelated to anything medical or scientific.’
Mike launched a GoFundMe fundraiser that aims to raise $20,000. As of Sunday, it has raised more than $18,000.
The proceeds will go toward helping the five children. Their aunt in South Carolina plans to start a college fund for them.