Last week, Atlanta high schooler Justin Hunter said goodbye to both his parents, just days apart, after the entire family tested positive for COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to rage in the U.S., which has the highest number of both cases and deaths in the world. Cases are currently surging in many states in the South, West, and Midwest, and deaths are also on the rise again nationwide after declining amid lockdowns in March. But beyond the statistics are real families that are being devastated by this brutal disease. Justin Hunter, a 17-year-old high school football star in the Atlanta area, just lost both his parents last week, days apart, after the entire family tested positive for the coronavirus.
Hunter told local news outlets that when his entire family tested positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago, he was asymptomatic while his parents, Angie and Eugene, quickly developed alarming symptoms.
“They became very sick and they had the clear symptoms,” he said. “Their temperatures skyrocketed. They had headaches. Horrible cough. They felt very lazy.”
After initially quarantining in the house, Hunter said his parents called an ambulance. Within days, both of them had died from COVID-19, just days apart from one another, at the same hospital.
Need some prayers. 1 of our players, @JustinHunter47, just lost both of his parents in the last 4 days. Need some prayers for Justin and his family. RIP Gene and Angie. @OfficialGHSA @RecruitGeorgia @larryblustein @CoachGeorgia_ @FlaHSFootball @FultonAD_crafts @GACACoaches
— Johns Creek FB (@JohnsCreekHSFB) July 31, 2020
Hunter also said he has no idea how his family was infected with COVID-19.
“We were a regular family just trying to stay safe during this pandemic,” he explained. “When my mom would go to the store, she would be wearing mask and she would be wearing gloves.”
A GoFundMe set up to raise money for Hunter’s living expenses and education mirrors what he said: That his parents were beloved fixtures in their community.
“The Hunter family has been a shining light in the Denmark, Johns Creek and South Forsyth communities for such a long time,” it reads. “The loss of Angie and Eugene this week has left us all with such heavy hearts.”
As of Monday morning, the page had raised nearly $250,000 of its $300,000 goal. The money will be used to support Hunter by establishing a trust for him to “provide basic life needs and enable him to pursue his educational dreams & aspirations,” it says.
Hunter said he will keep pushing through in school and life because it’s what his parents wanted.
“They never raised me to sit around and feel sorry for myself in any situation, and I just gotta keep going and pushing,” he said. “I know they’re happy up there and that’s what makes me happy.”
Thank you all for your support. It means the world to me. I won't be responding to text or calls at this time, but I will get back to all of you soon. Love you all🖤#LLE💕🕊 #LLA💕🕊 pic.twitter.com/WCfgmOHltB
— Justin Hunter (@JustinHunter47) July 31, 2020
And he has one message he wants everyone to hear about wearing a mask during the pandemic: “If you don’t wear it for yourself, then wear it for the next person. Because you could be saving that person’s life.”