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CNN Special Reports
The Human Cost Of COVID. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired March 20, 2021 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: 100,000 people ...
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: 200,000 Americans ...
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: But 300,000 Americans.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has been a year of COVID in the United States.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It is wrenching to confront the fact that we're now at 500,000.
MARQUEZ: What has it cost us?
CHRIS CROSSEN, ROGER'S SON: There's a name and a family with every single one of those numbers.
ANDREW MARSH JR., HUBERT'S SR. SON: I asked the doctor, what are the chances that I can see my dad one time?
GABY GUZMAN, SUSY'S FRIEND: And we said, you know what? God will see him through.
MARQUEZ: How has it changed us?
RAY FUGATE, POST COVID-19 PATIENT: I'm still struggling with doing some of the things that I did before.
MARSH: It's reached in and it's torn a hunk out of us.
MARQUEZ: And how long will it take to heal?
DR. ROD RODRIGUEZ, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, DEO CLINIC: I don't know if we're ever going to go back to the old normal.
MARQUEZ: Tonight, a CNN special report, "The Human Cost of COVID."
What kind of town is Dalton to grow up in?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was fun.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, everyone, everyone knows you. There's just a level of familiarity that just makes it your most quintessential kind of southern town.
MARQUEZ: The carpet capital of the world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Fun fact.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you're walking on carpet, likely it was made in Dalton, Georgia.
MARQUEZ: It's also a very religious area.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, there are definitely a great number of churches.
HUBERT ANDREW MARSH JR., HUBERT'S SON: All right, so my full name is Hubert Andrew Marsh, Jr.
MARQUEZ: And what do you want to be called in this name?
MARSH: Yes, please.
I'm a musician, and my wife and I live in New Jersey. I would travel from New Jersey to Dalton once every month
MARQUEZ: To visit mom Minnie and dad, Hubert Andrew Marsh Sr.
MARSH: He was the patriarch of our family, of the community, our church.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trusting God ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... to shape our future.
MARQUEZ: Sounds like you really looked up to your father.
MARSH: Oh, I did. I did. He absorbed everything for everyone in his orbit. If he said he was taking care of it, you can rest assure that it was taking care of.
MARQUEZ: A rock.
MARQUEZ: And your rock.
MARSH: Yes. My dad worked his entire career for the Public Health System of Georgia.
MARQUEZ: So when COVID-19 came along, he took it seriously.
MARSH: He did. And he will tell me that if him or my mom got COVID, it was not going to be good.
MARQUEZ: Why was he extra worried about himself and his wife?
MARSH: My dad had some preexisting conditions. He knew that it would not be good because of his respiratory situation. April 2019, my mom in a single day, had two brain aneurysms.
MARQUEZ: Oh dear.
MARSH: And then she had a stroke in the surgery to fix the aneurysms. It left her with left side paralysis. My dad was her primary caregiver since that happened. My dad had put a sign on the door, said no visitors.
MARQUEZ: But there was at least one, which may be how the couple got COVID.
MARSH: My dad did a great job nursing my mom back to health, but all the while, his health was going down quick with COVID symptoms. He knew that he had it, but he wasn't going to leave my mom. Then it finally got to the point when I said, Dad, I need you to go to the hospital. Well, who's going to be with your mom, and I said, I'm in the car right now and I'm headed from New Jersey to Dalton. And my dad drove himself to Atlanta two hours to the hospital.
MARQUEZ: You're a police officer?
CROSSEN: I am. Coming up on 25 years.
MARQUEZ: You have a local sports show?
Good evening, everybody and welcome to football Friday.
Seventeen years ago, I was asked by a local television station to be part of a Friday Night Football live television show.
So stay with us on Football Friday.
And I've loved doing it ever since.
MARQUEZ: And I take it that love for that sport comes from your father as well.
CROSSEN: Yes, it's a just kind of a thing we always did as a family. He was a big football player here when he grew up. He was director of the local rec department, coached as well. He went into the schools and taught and had a chance to mentor kids.
MARQUEZ: How important are people like your father to towns like Dalton, Georgia?
CROSSEN: Those sorts of people keep towns like this thriving. MARQUEZ: Do you know where he picked up coronavirus?
CROSSEN: No idea. He and my mom both were being pretty selective about where they went.
AZUCENA "SUSY" MORENO, MARTIN'S WIFE (through translation): He was an exceptional man. He worked very hard so we could have everything we needed.
GUZMAN: They were together since they were little kids. They're very much in love.
MORENO (through translation): About five years ago, we decided to come here, so the children could go to school and learn the language. Most of his family is here in Dalton. We're legal residents. When the school year ended, I decided we could go to Mexico and stay there while the children were waiting to go back to school. We have three children.
GUZMAN: She was with her children in Mexico waiting for him to get there.
MORENO (through translation): I told him to only go to work, to always wear his mask and if he noticed anyone with symptoms, to not go near them, even of it was family. He didn't follow instructions. He went to visit them.
So he told me that one of his sisters had symptoms. When he told me that he'd been having difficulty breathing, I called Gaby.
GUZMAN: I am a registered nurse. I noticed that I couldn't hear a lot of air moving in his lungs. Then I checked his oxygen and it was 88 percent.
MARQUEZ: Above 95 is normal.
MORENO (through translation): When Gaby told me that Martin wasn't doing well and had to go to the emergency room, I can't explain it. I felt horrible.
DORA PRICE, RITA'S DAUGHTER: My mother suffered from congestive heart failure. When she started experiencing symptoms, we don't know if they were COVID symptoms, or if they were from her congestive heart failure. I went and I took her, get tested and she was negative. We tend to believe that she really was positive.
She came home on a Monday. By Thursday, she had lost all her strength. I immediately texted everybody, is that, look, I hate to be an alarmist, but mom is bad. Everybody got in touch with her. She would have her little grandchildren and great grandchildren. And as she sat on the edge of her bed, and she just blessed each and every one of them and hug them and kiss them goodbye.
MARQUEZ: You lost your mother.
PRICE: I lost my mother in July. MARQUEZ: And then how many more family members became ill?
PRICE: Nineteen family members became infected with COVID, and five friends that came to visit also got infected with COVID. And I felt really guilty for a long time because I felt that I had let the guard down because I was not insisting on everybody coming in with a mask. And it wasn't like I wasn't aware of COVID after everybody would leave at around 10:00 o'clock, 11:00 o'clock at night. I'd start cleaning and disinfecting ...
PRICE: ... and mopping and everything.
MARQUEZ: And then when did your brother get truly sick?
PRICE: That last week that she was alive, he started having symptoms.
ANNALEE HARLAN, DALTON CITY COUNCILWOMAN: In the middle to latter part of March, my grandfather passed away from COVID, Jack Bandy. He was one of the co-founders of Coronet Industries before covering giant and it's time.
MARQUEZ: How old was he when he died?
HARLAN: Ninety-three. He was thriving physically, mentally. I think he had things left to do.
MARQUEZ: Dalton is the biggest city here, yes?
HARLAN: Yes. 35,000 people live in the city of Dalton, a little over 100,000 in Whitfield County. It's quite a diverse population.
MARQUEZ: Nearly half of Dalton's population is Latina.
And I take up most of the Latino population has come up here to work in the carpet industry.
HARLAN: Yes. Probably in the early '80s, people were moving here as the plants were booming.
DR. PABLO PEREZ, FOUNDER, DALTON'S ST. JOSEPH CLINIC: The Latino community represents almost half of the population, but we were disproportionately hit by the pandemic.
RODRIGUEZ: They have worked in sectors that are sometimes at risk. You know, they work in crowded conditions. They don't have the luxury of social distancing. And plus, they have to work. They can't tell a commute. And it's felt that that's where the infection initially got its inroads into the community within the Latino community.
MARQUEZ: By summer, tiny Whitfield County was hard hit.
SHIVANI PATEL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, ROLLINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Beginning in late May, we started seeing a steady rise in cases per capita. If we take the month of July, for example, cases per capita in Whitfield County were about twice as high as the Georgia average and they were quadruple what we saw for the rest of the nation. About one in 12 people in the United States have COVID-19 or have ever had COVID-19. It's about one in seven individuals in Whitfield County.
MARQUEZ: Why a mix of reasons? The vulnerable Latino population, the presence of risk factors, like ...
RODRIGUEZ: Poverty, homelessness, obesity, diabetes, hypertension.
RODRIGUEZ: This is Trump land. You also have people that when this pandemic was almost at its worst attending political rallies. We did have a political environment that almost discouraged things as simple as mask usage and social distancing.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The CDC is advising the use of non-medical cloth face covering. This is voluntary. I don't think I'm going to be doing it.
RODRIGUEZ: We also have a congresswoman who believes in QAnon.
MARQUEZ: That's why Dalton's interesting because it is this sort of reflection of what everything the country was going through.
Coming up ...
RODRIGUEZ: That nonsense gets people killed. It's not a theoretical thing. It gets people killed.
MARSH: He went in on a Monday regular COVID unit, ICU on like Thursday, intubated on Saturday.
He was in the hospital for a couple of weeks before I ever got to see him. Things weren't looking good so I asked the doctor like, hey, look, what are the chances that I can see my dad? One time, I will sign a waiver. I'll do whatever I have to do. And she actually surprisingly got me permission.
MARQUEZ: So your 69-year-old father, a guy you looked up to. What do you see when you walk in his room?
MARSH: I see a shell of my father, just like the amount of things that were keeping him alive was -- I've just never seen anything like that.
MARQUEZ: Do you think he recognized you, your voice?
MARSH: I hope so.
MARSH: I think so and I hope so. I talked to him like he did.
MARQUEZ: What did you say?
MARSH: If he was in there, I know that he was thinking about his to-do list. And so, I told him all the things that I did standing in the gap for him, the bills that were paid, the payroll at the church that had been done, the mortgage at the church, I took care of that. My mom was well taken care of. I told him you keep fighting. Don't worry about all the things that you normally would do. I got it.
MORENO (through translation): Gaby was keeping an eye on things, and she would call and tell me, well, we're getting there.
GUZMAN: They started him on one of the treatments at that time that was called remdesivir. He was also able to receive plasma. He called us and told us that he was feeling better.
MARQUEZ: Then, things took a turn.
MORENO (through translation): Two weeks after going into the emergency room, he got intubated. Intensive care is death's prelude, and intubation is like you're holding onto life by a thread, closer to death than to life.
GUZMAN: We were strong in our faith and we gave it to the Lord. You know, we said you know what? God will see him through. At one point, he had ear (ph) and his chest.
MORENO (through translation): That's when they moved him to Tennessee to put him in a machine called an ECMO, which was our big hope.
GUZMAN: The ECMO oxygenates your blood for you, so it kind of gives the lungs a break. And he actually moved his foot. And so, I remember that day, you know, we were very excited, oh, he moved his foot. He's waking up. This is great.
MARQUEZ: But then ...
GUZMAN: The nurse told us that his heart looked like it was starting to be affected by COVID. He was 38 years old. You just don't understand why. Why somebody so young and so healthy got this.
MARQUEZ: The high rate of infection in Dalton's Latino community prompted community leaders and city officials to take action.
You started testing here at the clinic.
RODRIGUEZ: It was about August. I mean, we're actually approached by the city because they had some federal grant money that they could use to do outreach to the Latino community.
MARQUEZ: Was the city, means people on, was the city discovering that Latinos were less apt to seek out testing because they or someone in their household might not be here legally and fully? RODRIGUEZ: Yes, I mean, I think that was the thinking. And I know anecdotally, there's sometimes an inherent mistrust of the system.
MARQUEZ: The nurse doing the swabbing, Gaby Guzman.
GUZMAN: One of our other girls that worked there, she would go out to the local restaurants and grocery stores and she would give them flyers and pamphlets and explain the importance of doing all the precautions, you know, that were -- by CDC guidelines, you know, English and Spanish so that they understood.
CELINA, CONTRACTED COVID-19 (through translation): We were celebrating my birthday, because my birthday was on July 3.
MARQUEZ: How many people were there?
CELINA (through translation): More than twenty.
MARQUEZ: Who got sick?
MARTIN, CONTRACTED COVID-19 (through translation): At least a dozen were infected.
CELINA (through translation): I didn't know anything, because I was already in the hospital.
MARQUEZ: How long were you in the hospital?
CELINA (through translation): Four months.
MARQUEZ (through translation): Four months.
MARTIN (through translation): We didn't know what could happen when you had gatherings. We weren't wearings masks then.
MARQUEZ (through translation): But you understand how COVID works, yes?
MARTIN (through translation): We didn't think that our own mother, or our own child, so close to us, could arrive carrying this disease.
PRICE: Julio did not have a wife to prod him to go to the doctor, go to the doctor. His wife had to be in Mexico. So she called me when we were viewing my mother and she said, Dora, can you please bring Julio your mother's oxygen's, he doesn't sound well. I said, OK. And he's like, oh no, I don't need it, I don't need it.
The next day, again, I offered it and he said, he didn't want it. The day after we buried my mother, he called me and he said, hey, sister, can you bring me the oxygen now? And I said, brother, why don't you come here? Let me take care of you. He said, let me just -- I'm going to go over there but I'm going to first go to the doctor. So he went to the doctor and he never came home.
From the clinic, they ambulance him to the hospital. He had 82 percent oxygen.
CROSSEN: He and mother both started feeling bad toward the end of the week before Halloween, and he was worse than she was. He was having a little more labored breathing, a fever, had a couple of sleepless nights. They went and got some care at the local hospital.
MARQUEZ: He was seen treated and sent home with medication.
CROSSEN: That he didn't improve over a weekend. But Tuesday morning, my mother took him to the emergency room, and whereas he had had pneumonia. In one long Saturday, it was now in both lungs on Tuesday.
MARQUEZ: Were you able to see him?
CROSSEN: No. I actually got to the hospital after he had already gone inside.
MARQUEZ: As the country headed toward the holiday season, there were dire warnings from health professionals.
DR. JOSEPH VARON, CHIEF OF CRITICAL CARE AND COVID-19 UNIT, HOUSTON'S UNITED MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER: In the next six weeks are going to be the darkest weeks in modern American medical history.
MARQUEZ: So just before Thanksgiving in Whitfield County, its Board of Commissioners considered what to do about masks. Mandate them, recommend them or do nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's the least we can do to recommend to our residents, but they were messed (ph). All in favor of that motion, please raise your hand. Opposed by the same side. And unfortunately, that motion fails to one.
RODRIGUEZ: That nonsense gets people killed, OK? I mean, that's something -- it's not a theoretical thing.
MARQUEZ: The meeting that night ended like this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are officially adjourned. Don't forget to pray for Roger. He's really sick.
MARQUEZ: That's Roger Crossen, Chris's dad. He had been a Whitfield County commissioner since 2015, but he couldn't vote that day because he was at the hospital, intubated, fighting for his life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't forget to pray for Roger. He's really sick.
MARQUEZ: Then you lost him.
MARQUEZ: Too early. CROSSEN: Way too early.
MARQUEZ: What day was that?
CROSSEN: November 17th?
MARQUEZ: What did the time lose? What did you lose?
CROSSEN: I lost the man that taught me how to be a father, taught me how to be community-minded. Kiss me on the head and tell me he loved me every time we parted ways. All the things that you would think about what you would want your father to be for you, that's what I lost that day.
CAROL CROSSEN, ROGER'S WIFE: It's been hard, really hard. I mean, losing my soulmate, my high school sweetheart. We'd have been married 50 years this year. When you've been with somebody for so long, it's not easy to do without them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, so I'm just going to talk about this very briefly but I'm assuming all of you are still not wanting to do a mask mandate, is that correct?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's correct.
MARQUEZ: They did pass a mask recommendation and they re-upped a mask mandate for inside county buildings. But a month later ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So we have a motion to remove the mask mandate on county buildings and keep the recommendation county wide as is already yesterday. All in favor say, aye. Any opposed say nay. That passes on a three over.
MARQUEZ: Your dad, he didn't want to put a mandate in.
CROSSEN: That's right. He wanted to make sure people were encouraged to wear a mask. I think he saw it as if you're being practical to put something like that in place and then to turn around and have it enforced.
CROSSEN: What that would look like, I mean, how much of your law enforcement time do you want to tie up sending a, you know, professional law enforcement officer out to deal with something like that?
RODRIGUEZ: You know, the thing is, I think it's useful to have some sort of official unified statement or vision yet it doesn't require a cop to haul someone off to jail but maybe just a little bit of ostracism, a little bit of social opprobrium, a little bit of reputational risk for walking into a restaurant without a mask would be enough to have people just wear the mask, even if they didn't believe in it.
MORENO (through translation): Martin was so strong. He was so strong for five weeks.
GUZMAN: The doctor called me and he said I don't have good news. His heart is doing really bad and I don't think he's going to make it.
MORENO (through translation): Gaby couldn't believe it because they had told us that they were going to try to wake him. So all of a sudden, we were told he is dying. That's very tough.
MARQUEZ: A short time later, Gaby, Susy, and two of her children were inside Martin's hospital room.
MORENO (through translation): I decided that I didn't want him to leave us hearing us crying, so we went in, and I said that I loved him very much. I thanked him or everything, for loving us.
GUZMAN: And after a few minutes, I looked at his nurse and he had a tear in his eye. He said, is he gone? He said, yes.
MORENO (through translation): He held on. He held on for us, because he wanted to live.
But the virus wouldn't let up.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (through translation): And your brother Martin, he died.
CELINA, CONTRACTED COVID-19 (through translation): Yes. I don't know if it was me who infected him. I don't know.
MARQUEZ (through translation): It's hard, I'm so sorry, so sorry.
MARTIN, CONTRACTED COVID-19 (through translation): She, along with her brother, was admitted to the hospital. The doctors told me that she wasn't going to last 30 days. But, one morning they phoned me. I thought this was the day. The worst day of my life. Only it wasn't -- just the opposite. The doctor called me and said, We want you to come to see your wife, because she has opened her eyes. They got us ready to be able to go iu and see her, and glory to God, there she was.
Today, when we go to her medical appointments, now they call her the miracle patient.
CELINA (through translation): That's what they call me.
DORA PRICE, RITA'S DAUGHTER: We are in front of El Pollo Alegre. This is known in Dalton Georgia as the happy chicken. And it's a place that my brother Julio Salazar owned for 25 years. This restaurant meant everything to my brother, because it was something that he was building for his family. For weeks he was in an induced coma.
MARQUEZ: On a ventilator.
PRICE: He came to -- his mind came to, he was all ear. I mean, you could talk to him. He can understand you. But he couldn't move anything but his little bit of his shoulders.
MARQUEZ: Julio Salazar was transferred to a rehab facility but suffered a series of setbacks. The family eventually made the decision to remove him from mechanical ventilation.
PRICE: I kept saying, Lord, thank you for taking my mother when you did, because she could not have been able to stand the pain of seeing her baby go through what he did.
ANDREW MARSH JR., HUBERT'S SR. SON: I'd seen my dad on a Friday afternoon, jumped on a plane, went to New Jersey to see my wife for the weekend. But on Sunday afternoon, the doctors called me and told me that like, you know, his rate of pumping that your heart does was it like single digits.
MARQUEZ: Hubert Marsha's heart was slowing down.
MARSH: I ran to the airport, I got on the first thing I could get out of Newark. I needed to get my mom down there. So I came here. I slept. She and I went down the first thing Monday morning.
She got to see him. That was her one and only time getting to see my dad. The nurses and the doctor pulled my mom and I into a room to talk to us to let us know that like, you know, if we were ready, this is it. The minute they take him off of the machines, that's going to be it.
So I gave my consent to do that. And I went back into the room with the nurse. And I put on, sitting on the dock of the bay. Sitting in the morning sun. And I witness just how fine the line is between us being here and us not being here as my dad went on.
MARQUEZ: By that song?
MARSH: That was one of his favorite songs. In the moment, I knew that I just wanted his last moment to be not sad.
And I patted him and I told him, good job. And I remember I even gave him a round of applause when he left because I don't know anybody that could live their lives as vibrantly as my dad did.
MARSH: You're going to need your breath, OK? I really haven't had much of a moment to internalize really what my feelings are because life never stopped. My dad's life ceased, but our lives haven't.
MARQUEZ: I sort of feel like the entire nation has PTSD, what is your sense of what you guys went through in the last year?
DR. NOAH JENTZEN, MEDICAL DIRECTOR OF CRITICAL CARE, HAMILTON MEDICAL CENTER: I think one of the big things we've learned is how do you stay on top of what the pandemic is doing to you emotionally, spiritually, mentally. DR. BRIAN DELASHMITT, CHIEF MEDICAL OFFICER, HAMILTON MEDICAL CENTER: The country has been through a war. You're on the frontlines and you're dealing with it at times when it was at its worst it felt like a war zone. And then the country as a whole dealing with losses, dealing with that isolation, dealing with not being able to go out, I mean, I would describe it as a war zone of COVID.
MARQUEZ (through translation): Are you different person today because of COVID?
CELINA (through translation): My life changed completely, completely. I can't get up to do my everyday tasks because I can't, I can't. My oxygen gets too low.
MARQUEZ (through translation): What other problems do you have?
CELINA (through translation): This COVID has left me with so many residual problems. I have early diabetes. I have high blood pressure. I'm depressed. I have anxiety. It's very hard.
MARQUEZ (through translation): Do you know the term in English long hauler? A person who has COVID effects for the long term?
CELINA (through translation): No, no.
MARQUEZ (through translation): You think you are one of them, don't you?
CELINA (through translation): No. Whatever happens, I must stay positive. Because if I let myself go like that, I get depressed and all. Then I'm done for.
JIM JACKSON, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, ICU RECOVERY CENTER AT VANDERBILT: COVID long haulers generally what it refers to is a situation where someone has had COVID. They've been in the hospital, they've been in the ICU, or they haven't. But what is notable about them is that the symptoms they're having are persisting.
DR. SEVIN, DIRECTOR, ICU RECOVERY CENTER AT VANDERBILT: I run the ICU Recovery Center here at Vanderbilt. I've been working with COVID-19 patients since March of 2020. We have seen patients with persistent symptoms like exercise intolerance, fatigue, cognitive deficits, depression, anxiety, PTSD.
SHARON CUTTS HUFF, POST COVID-19 PATIENT: Feeling great.
MARQUEZ: Sharon Cutts Huff got COVID in June of last year.
CUTTS HUFF: My chest gets so packed (ph).
MARQUEZ: She's a nurse who hasn't been able to work in nine months.
CUTTS HUFF: I could not get enough air, and if when my anxiety (INAUDIBLE). UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, those things are related. If you can't breathe, that's very ...
CUTTS HUFF: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... anxiety provoking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Push, push, push, and big breath in.
JACKSON: The main issues that I'm focusing on are cognitive and mental health related in nature.
CUTTS HUFF: It's just tore my life apart.
CUTTS HUFF: I'm not been able to breath in (ph).
JACKSON: Yes. Would you be interested in a support group? Yes.
CUTTS HUFF: Yes.
For so many people, being critically ill is a game changer. It changes the trajectory of their lives. My patient and his wife, and for so many with COVID, there is this incredible disruption and so much of it has to do with the abruptness of things.
SHELLEY FUGATE, RAY'S WIFE: Our family was turned upside down. Lives stopped. I mean, we dropped everything for two months. He fought for his life.
RAY FUGATE, POST COVID-19 PATIENT: I was in the hospital for 59 total days. I was placed pretty much on a ventilator immediately.
S. FUGATE: He had a pulmonary embolism. The doctor came and kind of said, we don't know that we can save him. I knew at that point we needed prayer. He was released from rehab on September the 22nd.
R. FUGATE: And Emma, she's definitely a daddy's girl. And we held hands almost all the way home. And it was just such a great day.
S. FUGATE: After we got back home, it did become obvious to me that we were all dealing with her own trauma from this experience.
R. FUGATE: I was first not aware that PTSD meant dealing with trauma of being in an intensive care unit. Every time I heard that word, COVID, I found myself counting to breathe just like I was trying to get my breath in the hospital.
S. FUGATE: We have both experienced nightmares at different times.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're going to come out of this stronger than you ever thought.
S. FUGATE: We have a support group for family members of COVID-19 survivors. The support group has been a godsend for me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You got to celebrate this part of this Planet Serenity.
S. FUGATE: They've just helped me not feel alone.
R. FUGATE: I'm still struggling with doing some of the things that I did before. I have been on oxygen for the entire time and the hope is to win all the way off of that.
S. FUGATE: We've learned a long time ago to take it one day at a time.
R. FUGATE: It's just how to say how fortunate and blessed we are to have each other and to realize that that's enough.
MARQUEZ: What is the future for you both?
CELINA (through translation): We don't know. Living is day to day.
MARQUEZ (through translation): Do you think that you'll ever go back to work?
CELINA (through translation): I hope so. Maybe.
MARQUEZ (through translation): Maybe.
CELINA (through translation): Maybe. But right now, I can't.
MARIN (through translation): We don't know how we're going to deal with it. But thanks to God's graces we've been lucky and had a second chance because my wife's life was saved.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translation): For the sake of his sorrowful Passion.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Have mercy on us and on the (INAUDIBLE).
SHIVANI PATEL, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, ROLLINS SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH, EMORY UNIVERSITY: What we've seen is that this pandemic has been a major stress test on our public health systems.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are here in vigil to pray for our (INAUDIBLE). More than two hundred people were died because of this virus.
PATEL: Nationally we failed, and locally, we failed.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: 100,000 people ...
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: 200,000 Americans ...
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: But 300,000 Americans. WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Half a million people now lost to the coronavirus in this country.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As we acknowledge the scale of mass death in America, remember each person and the life they lived.
MARSH: While my dad was fighting for his life, was a certain someone saying that virtually no one gets COVID.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But it affects virtually nobody. It's an amazing thing.
MARSH: But my dad was someone, he was someone to me. Although this isn't a town with a million people, this town together is still a mighty fist. He was a lot to many, many, many, many, many people in this community.
My mom and I now have both been vaccinated fully. When I saw them give her her first one, I just cried. I was so thankful that it's available to us now. And a few more months, and like, my dad also could have been protected, you know?
MARQUEZ: This is where the pandemic begins to end.
ANNALEE HARLAN, DALTON CITY COUNCILWOMAN: Yes.
MARQUEZ: Like this is it, like ...
HARLAN: Folks like this that our health department workers, they are the unsung heroes of this pandemic. As long as vaccine continues to be allocated to our area, we're going to efficiently distributed.
DR. ROD RODRIGUEZ, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, DEO CLINIC: There's still in this community, a lot of vaccine hesitancy.
HARLAN: We don't have buy in locally yet from the Latino community, and certainly not from the Caucasian community either.
MARQUEZ: Because they think the safety of is not there.
HARLAN: It's not only is it safe, it's, do I actually need it.
PRICE: I'm not telling anybody not to go get vaccinated because I would be irresponsible. I'm just saying I don't plan to.
RODRIGUEZ: So there's a lot of different myths, you know, one of them is well, is this some kind of a tracking device?
MARQUEZ: You've heard that?
RODRIGUEZ: Oh, yes. Yes. Does it make you infertile?
MARQUEZ: Do you think the vaccine is actually a vaccine? PRICE: No.
MARQUEZ: What do you think it is?
PRICE: I don't want it. Well, yes, it's a vaccine, but I don't think that people have tested it enough. I don't think people know what really is in it.
MARQUEZ: In the vaccine ...
PRICE: In the vaccine, yes.
MARQUEZ: ... do you think there's a tracking device or anything nefarious?
PRICE: At one point, it will be that.
HARLAN: If we have pockets where the mentality is, I don't have to do this, it's my choice. We'll continue to have variants in that area and we're going to continue to have outbreaks.
MARQUEZ: It must be nice to see people getting vaccinated, but are they doing it fast enough?
DR. LEE CONNOR, INECTIOUS DISEASE PHYSICIAN, HAMILTON MEDICAL CENTER: I wish we could do it faster.
MARQUEZ: And is Dalton through the worst?
CONNOR: Well, each time it gets worse whenever we get hit again. So, I don't know.
MARQUEZ: The assumption has to be, I take it, that we are going to see probably pandemics.
CONNOR: Probably at a higher frequency than we did in the past.
MARQUEZ: It's not the end. It's a -- it was a warning.
CONNOR: Right. Yes, I would say it's probably a warning for our -- the inevitable next one.
MARQUEZ: In your mind, COVID-19 represents what?
PRICE: I think this was induced, I think this was political.
MARQUEZ: So you think COVID was manufactured by the United States government or some other governments?
PRICE: I believe so. Yes.
MARQUEZ: How frustrating was it to see COVID-19 become politicized.
RODRIGUEZ: It's heartbreaking that suddenly, politics is intermingled with something that really should not be in a political arena at all. There's a lot of unnecessary pain and suffering and death that happened because of these things.
MARQUEZ: And how long will it take to heal?
RODRIGUEZ: I mean, life's different. I mean, in ways that you can't necessarily even explain. I don't know if we're ever going to go back to the old normal, I think we're going to have to create a new normal going forward.
MORENO (through translation): These are my rings. He took his. When you lose someone you love so much in such a horrible way, you're life does a 360 spin and it will never be the same. The children are in the process of acceptance and healing, since I told them that I want them to keep on going because that's what their dad would have wanted.
MARQUEZ: What's the plan? Where do you see yourself in a year or two?
MARSH: That's a question that I need to answer and that I've been trying to answer. If for no one else, I need to answer for myself. I told my dad that I would take care of my mom. And then he didn't have to worry about that. So that's what I do day in and day out.
MARQUEZ: To have your father and your husband become a statistic, what do people need to know about those who have died from this?
CHRIS CROSSEN, ROGER'S SON: There's a name and a family with every single one of those numbers, that someone has been a part of every single memory pretty much I've ever had in my life. It's our duty going forward to make sure that they're not forgotten. To make sure that their deaths are not in vain.
MARQUEZ: What did COVID do to the country? What did it do to your family?
MARSH: It's reached in and it's torn a hunk out of us. It has separated us in terrible ways, terrible ways.
MARQUEZ: Do you think we'll ever heal from that?
MARSH: I sure hope so. I like to believe in the spirit of America that we can bounce back.