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ICU nurse loses mother, husband within days due to COVID-19

"I'm an ICU nurse, I help all these people and I couldn't save my own family," Lizanne Jennings says of losing two loved ones within days of one another.

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Lizanne Jennings and her family are grieving after a devastating loss: Both her husband and her mother died within days of one another due to complications with COVID-19.

Linda Jennings moved in with her daughter, Lizanne, and her family after Oklahoma experienced severe ice storms in October 2020. Within days, Linda was not feeling well, along with Lizzanne's husband, Dennis.

"I said, ‘Babe, are you ok?’ He's like, ‘I can't catch my breath.’ He’s like, ‘I dunno, I just feel kinda funny,’ And he's never ever sick. And then my mom’s like, ‘You know, I don’t feel very good,’" Lizanne recalled.

As an ICU nurse, Lizanne had the insight to separate the two in different parts of the house and gave each a pulse oximeter. They started a group chat to check in with their vitals, but it wasn't long before things went downhill for both — fast.

Dennis went to the hospital first.

"I put the pulse ox on, his oxygen was 72. He was hypoxic at that point which means his brain was going without oxygen," Lizanne describes. "Meanwhile, I'm thinking my mom has a breathing machine and oxygen in her room but you can't take it from one and give it to the other."

Normal oxygen levels are between 98 and 100. At the same time, Linda's condition was getting worse, quickly. It wasn't long before mother and daughter had a difficult conversation.

"‘If it's OK with you, I just wanna die here if I'm gonna die.’ I said, ‘Mom, it's ok if you die in my house. I just can't help you anymore,’" Lizanne recalls her mother asking to stay at home to die.

Just days apart, Lizanne had to say goodbye to two of the most important people in her life. You can watch more of this heartbreaking story in the video above, including the plea this nurse has for people to protect themselves and others.


We are living in unprecedented times with COVID-19 spreading across the nation and world, and the stories about how people are coping, battling, and persevering through the pandemic have become more important than ever.

In each episode, “Field Notes” brings you a handful of stories about how coronavirus has impacted real people across the United States, and you can hear more about what it’s like to cover the pandemic from the local news teams that are committed to keeping you informed, no matter what.