A Virginia couple in their 40s who refused pleas from their family to get the COVID-19 vaccine because they read misinformation online passed away from the disease within two weeks of each other, leaving behind five children and an infant grandson.
High school sweethearts Kevin, 48, and Misty Mitchem, 46, regretted not taking the vaccine just before they died, according to their bereaved loved ones.
Misty Mitchem, a medical transcriptionist by trade, declined to get the shot even though she had diabetes.
‘He called me up [from the hospital] and said, “Mom, I love you and I wish that I’d got the shot”,’ Kevin’s mother, Terry Mitchem, told NBC Washington.
‘Of course I told him, “It’s past. You can’t do anything about it”.’
The couple is survived by their four young children: Riley, 17; Leah, 14; and twins Taylor and Aiden, 11.
Kevin Mitchem had one daughter, Angel, 22, from a previous relationship. Angel is the mother of Lincoln, who will turn two in November.
High school sweethearts Kevin, 48, and Misty Mitchem, 46, of Stafford Count, Virginia, regretted not taking the vaccine just before they died, according to their bereaved loved ones. Misty died on September 23. Kevin passed away on October 8
Kevin Mitchem is survived by an adult child from a previous relationship and four young children from his marriage to Misty
Kevin Mitchem (seen sitting in the foreground) resisted pleas from his parents, Don and Terry Mitchem (top center and top right), to get vaccinated. Kevin Mitchem had one daughter, Angel (far left), 22, from a previous relationship. Angel is the mother of Lincoln, who will turn two years of age in November
After their parents’ deaths, the four younger children went to live with an aunt and uncle in South Carolina, according to Kevin’s brother, Mike Mitchem of Spotsylvania County, Virginia.
‘Both our families have been turned upside down,’ Mike Mitchem told the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
‘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.’
According to Mike Mitchem, Kevin Mitchem developed a cough last month and went to an urgent care facility in Stafford County. He was then sent home with cold medicine.
Kevin Mitchem then returned to the urgent care facility a few days later after he wasn’t feeling any better, his brother said.
He then tested positive for COVID-19.
Days later, Misty Mitchem, who was diabetic, started feeling ill. She was then sent to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where she was treated for COVID-19.
‘Kevin called me on a Monday and said, “Misty’s in the hospital”,’ Kevin’s father, Don Mitchem, said.
According to Mike Mitchem, Kevin Mitchem (above) developed a cough last month and went to an urgent care facility in Stafford County. He was then sent home with cold medicine. Kevin Mitchem then returned to the urgent care facility a few days later after he wasn’t feeling any better, his brother said
Mike Mitchem announced his brother’s and sister-in-law’s passing in a Facebook post on October 9
Mike Mitchem launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding page that aims to raise $20,000. As of Sunday, it has raised more than $18,000
‘They say she’s got COVID. They automatically put her on a ventilator she was so bad.’
Misty Mitchem’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.
The next day, Kevin Mitchem was admitted to the same hospital. By the time he was taken in for treatment, the family was told that Misty Mitchem might have fewer than 24 hours to live.
Don Mitchem recalled the moment he learned his son was to be hospitalized.
‘He said, “Dad, I’m going to the hospital”,’ Don Mitchem said.
‘I said, “Why, Kevin?”’
‘He said, “I feel bad”.’
The next day, Misty Mitchem died.
‘Within five hours, she was gone, Mike Mitchem told the Times-Dispatch.
Misty Mitchem died on September 23 – just days after the onset of her symptoms.
‘It really came out of nowhere.’
Since the start of the pandemic, nearly 13,400 Virginians have died of COVID-19
Case counts in Virginia are trending downward in recent weeks – reflecting the nationwide trend
‘Misty was a very devoted mother to her four children (Riley, Leah, Aidan and Taylor) and step-daughter Angel,’ according to her obituary.
‘Misty was one of the most caring and loving people…’
Don Mitchem 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 Mitchem recalled.
‘I told him to call his mom.’
Kevin Mitchem then called his mother.
‘He called me up and said, “Mom, I love you and I wish that I’d got the shot”,’ Terry Mitchem said.
‘Of course I told him, “It’s past. You can’t do anything about it”.’
Kevin Mitchem 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.
His brother said that he 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 Mitchem said.
‘He worked every day. He was always working, always outside, always doing something. Very active.’
Nearly 69 percent of Virginia residents have had at least one dose of the vaccine
Stafford County, where the Mitchems lived, has a vaccination rate that is lower than the state average
Just 54.1 percent of the population of Stafford County, Virginia has had at least one dose of the coronavirus vaccine, according to the latest public health data. Less than half of all county residents are fully vaccinated
‘My brother was healthy. He was still pretty much young and he had everything to live for,’ Mike Mitchem added.
‘He had five kids and a grandson, and now all of them have lost him.
‘It’s hard on my parents. They’re 73, and my mom said your kids are not supposed to die before you.’
Mike Mitchem 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.
Don and Terry Mitchem, who have each had their booster shots, said they tried in vain to convince Kevin to get vaccinated.
‘We’d just say, “Hey, Kevin let’s get the shot, buddy. It’s not going to hurt you”,’ Don Mitchem recalled.
‘“Oh, I know. I’m alright. I’m not going to get the shot. I don’t need it”,’ Kevin Mitchem would tell his father.
Mike Mitchem 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, who is Mike Mitchem’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.’
Rhodes added: ‘My heart breaks for their children, who are going through this terrible situation.
‘The loss of one parent is difficult enough, but to lose both parents within a short time span is devastating.’
Mike Mitchem launched a GoFundMe crowdfunding page 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.
‘It’s not a lot. It’s not going to get them all through school, but it’s a start,’ Mike Mitchem said.
Kevin’s parents are now urging the public to get vaccinated.
‘Please get it,’ Don Mitchem said through tears.
‘That virus will take you at any age.
‘But taking a mother and father is, it’s uncalled for.’