— A North Carolina husband and wife of 48 years died holding hands after a battle with COVID-19.

Their son, Shane Peoples, said his mom and dad, 67-year-old Johnny Lee Peoples and 65-year-old Cathy Darlene Peoples, died last week.

“They were married 48 years, been together 50,” Peoples said. “They walked hand-in-hand for those 50 years.”

Peoples said the deaths marked the end of a 30-day ordeal of both parents contracting the virus then rapidly declining. He said it started with his mother just days away from her retirement.

67-year-old Johnny Lee Peoples and 65-year-old Cathy Darlene Peoples

“It was mainly the fever and loss of taste,” he said. “My dad starting showing symptoms two days later. About two weeks later they were both put in the ICU. Everything just went south, everything just got worse.”

When the end was in sight, Peoples said the hospital staff did what they could to bring the couple together.

“The next day, they put them in the same ICU room, they put their hands together and the nurses gathered,” he said. “They passed within four minutes of each other. They died together holding hands and walked into heaven holding hands,” he said.

Their socially distanced funeral was held outside.

Peoples said, if there’s a takeaway for his family from all they’ve experienced, it’s that people need to understand that, in some cases, COVID-19 is a killer.

“I just don’t want anyone else to get hurt,” People said. “I don’t want anyone to feel the grief that we’re feeling.”

Peoples poured his heart out in a widely-read Facebook post. He said his family kept hoping and praying that his parents would be okay, and they never expected that they wouldn’t make it.

He also said his parents took the pandemic seriously but still got sick. He implored people to wear a mask, wash their hands, practice social distancing and be kind to one another.

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