MILWOIK (AP) – Kimberly Montgomery was the first to lose COVID-19 to her aunt. She was having difficulty breathing, so her daughter took her to the emergency room. It was the last time her daughter saw him alive.
Then, one after another, 14 other people in the Montgomery world – family members, friends, friends who were like family – contracted the same disease.
There was a retired policeman who was a church preacher-deacon. A friend’s brother who was a restaurant chef. A close friend who was a nurse caring for viral patients in Atlanta. A cousin who came home from the hospital 12 days later thinking he was recovering, but it never happened. Painter կ drummer for an African dance company.
It was an unimaginable series of losses since COVID-19 was declared an epidemic; all but one of the dead were MS, like Montgomery.
“I do not know when I will recycle them all,” said Montgomery, 59. He added: “The shock factor, it never fades. But it hardens. ”
At the national level, sexes make up about 12 percent of the population, but they account for nearly 15 percent of all known coronavirus deaths, according to the APM Research Lab, which tracks mortality from disease.
More than 73,000 black Americans have died from COVID-19, the second highest rate of racial mortality among Indigenous peoples.
At the same time, Montgomery has seen his community struggle with a nationwide countdown on race, police, and other systemic issues. His personal grief only reinforced his determination to work in the public interest, including as director of intergovernmental relations in Milwaukee.
“Listening to the statistics … seeing the events in Minnesota, the George W. Floyd incident, the Kenosha case, it bothers me,” he said. “Because these victims are like me.”
Over the past year, Montgomery has spent most of his time advocating for COVID funding for Milwaukee. She also collaborates with Delta Sigma Theta Milwaukee Alumni Branch, a historically popular party to raise awareness about vaccines through social media and virtual events.
He works closely with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, who says Montgomery has always known the power of his work, but has recently become more urgent.
“This is not a theoretical exercise for him. That’s very real, “said Barrett.
He added that his experiences have hardened his perspective. “It brings home how devastating this epidemic was last year.”
Montgomery de-emphasizes her own pain, saying that others have suffered greater losses – spouses or parents. She mourns for her friends and family, especially her cousin Ingrid Dice, who rushed her mother to the ambulance to never see her again.
Davis, who also lost a cousin to COVID-19, says he stays home a lot because of the epidemic, so he doesn’t see much of Montgomery, but they talk often.
“Kim is a social butterfly,” he said. “I call him the second mayor of Milwaukee, but I think I saw a slight decline in what happened.”
Montgomery mostly works from home, he is diligent in wearing a mask when he goes out. He is being tested before visiting his parents in Tennessee, terrified that he will infect them.
“I am just happy to be here. I’m excited myself if people, if I see individuals whose noses do not even have a mask. It is ineffective. “And it really worries me,” he said.
But Montgomery also has a new perspective on life, noticing things like birds in the background as she talks on the phone with her 31-year-old son. He is one of the people who laugh easily and a lot during his whole life under the name of “Ar! Let light”.
Still, COVID-19 is never far from his thoughts.
“My prayer every night is to everyone who’s dealing with this disease.”