BELFAST, Maine — Melissa Staples knew it was real when Dr. Nirav Shah announced her mother’s death in his daily press conference.
“Never in a million years did I think my mom would be a part of this national statistic, but she was,” Staples said.
Leone ‘Kitty’ Harriman, 71, was the 35th Mainer to die with COVID-19.
She was in rehab recovering from an infection at the Tall Pines long-term care facility in Belfast, Staples said, when with just days to go until she could go home, she tested positive.
Within days, Harriman passed away. Her daughter never got to see her in person.
"She was excited to come home to be with my dad,” Staples said. "On Sunday morning the 19th she passed away. She couldn't fight anymore. It just took her so quickly."
Their story is all to familiar to the families of at least 56 victims across the state.
That is why Staples decided to make sure they all knew they were not alone.
She created the ‘Remembering Maine’s Covid-19 Every number has a name’ Facebook group to allow loved ones to post their own stories, and share the lives behind the numbers.
"It hit me. It hit my heart that my mom has a name,” Staples said. "I just hope that every number knows the state of Maine cares about them."
As of Monday there were know new deaths reported in Maine, according to the state’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Director Dr. Shah said the state has fielded more than 6,000 consultations for COVID-19.
But even as the death toll appears to be slowing, people like Staples are still reeling from their losses.
Staples wants here mom, Kitty, to be remember for her vibrant life, her love of family, church and a good game of bingo.
The 71-year-old was set to celebrate her 50th wedding anniversary with her husband Fred in October.
For more of her story and those of the other victims click here to join the group on Facebook.
At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus