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Host sobs as widow describes how she said goodbye to 42-yr-old husband struck with COVID-19

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CNN’s Erin Burnett could hardly disguise her emotion as she spoke to a New York woman who had just lost her husband to the coronavirus.

Burnett fought back tears during the live interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett Out Front” on Friday as Maura Lewinger of Queens gave the heartbreaking account of how she said goodbye to her 42-year-old husband Joseph over FaceTime as he died.


(Source: CNN)

“You and I were just speaking briefly before this began and not only am I so sorry, but of course it’s impossible to truly imagine the depth of your loss, the suddenness of it, the unexpectedness of it, but I know that you are on tonight to speak to people at this moment and that you have something you want to tell them,” Burnett said at the outset of the segment.

The mother of three responded by recalling their lives together and how her late husband, who was a high school assistant principal and coach of the basketball team, was loved by the community.

“He always has a listening ear, no matter what you’re talking about. Joe was always listening, always felt like you were the most important person in the room,” she said, mentioning how he left her love letters every morning in her lunch box.

With no pre-existing conditions, he began to show “mild symptoms,” Lewinger told Burnett. He had a low-grade fever that spiked around St. Patrick’s Day in March, creating issues with his breathing. She explained that over the next days and weeks, the couple “pretty much spent 24/7 on FaceTime, trying to meditate and calm him, trying not to let him feel alone.”

“The country is getting used to remote learning and we had to get used to virtual caregiving and virtual marriage and just being there for each other,” she said.

“They put him on a ventilator in the morning and transferred him to ICU, then I spoke to that nurse and he was very reassuring and I asked him to play music and he did,” Lewinger said, sharing that she continued to listen to their wedding song while waiting.

She recounted how the hospital called, saying they “had thrown the kitchen sink at him and I’m afraid he doesn’t have any more time.”

“Hurry in the room and get him on FaceTime,” she had said.

“And so she did. She did. And I thanked him, I thanked him for being the most amazing husband and for making me feel cherished and loved every single day,” Lewinger told Burnett. “I played our wedding song for him. And then that was it.”

“I think your love for him-,” Burnett began to say, before putting her head in her hands for a moment in tears.

“Sorry, made me cry… it’s a beautiful thing. But I also wanted everyone to know the love that your community had for your husband,” she finally said.

She asked about funeral arrangements which could not be made due to stay-at-home orders and bans on social distancing, though the community apparently held a funeral procession of cars and trucks in his honor. Lewinger urged people to abide by the guidelines and directives being given in dealing with the pandemic.

“People are just not being careful. People are being so invincible-feeling and they think it can’t happen to them,” she said. “You cannot, cannot, be with people that are not in your house. As sad and lonely and everything that is, you must, must stay with only the people in your house.”

Social media users were heartbroken at the tragic and unexpected loss of a young life, and at Burnett’s emotional reaction, and shared their feelings on Twitter.

Frieda Powers

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