by Charles Ornstein, ProPublica, and Mike Hixenbaugh, NBC News
HOUSTON — When Karen Salazar stopped by to check on her mother on the evening of June 22, she found her in worse shape than she expected. Her mother, Felipa Medellín, 54, had been complaining about chest pains and fatigue, symptoms that she attributed to a new diabetes treatment she’d started days earlier.
Medellín, who had seen a doctor that day, insisted she was fine. But Salazar, 29, noticed that when Medellín lay down, her chest was rising and falling rapidly — as if she couldn’t catch her breath.
“I grabbed her hand and I said: ‘I’m sorry. I know you don’t want to go to the hospital, but I’m calling the ambulance,’” Salazar said.
While Salazar was on the phone with a 911 dispatcher, her mother suddenly passed out. Then she stopped breathing.
“Mom! Mom!” Salazar remembers shouting, trying to rouse her.
With the dispatcher on speaker phone, Salazar attempted CPR, repeatedly pressing her hands down on her mother’s chest, silently praying for her to startle back to life. But by the time Houston paramedics arrived at her home in northwest Houston, Medellín was dead.
Days later, an autopsy revealed the primary cause: COVID-19.
“We never thought it was COVID,” Salazar said. ….read more: