Beyond a statistic: When the virus hits home

Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan and her big brother, Ron. (Photo via Instagram)

Mark Trahant

Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan: Someone feeling well could still be carrying the virus … “then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public' * Updated Monday 03/23 11:32 EDT

Sad news posted on social media Sunday night when Minnesota Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, White Earth, announced on Instagram that she had lost her brother Ron Golden to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Almost exactly two months after we buried our dad, my brother Ron passed on Saturday,” she wrote. “To many, he’ll be a statistic: Tennessee’s second COVID-related death. But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father, and husband.”

Vanderbilt University Medical Center reported his death, without a name, only saying he was from an adjacent county with underlying medical conditions.

Flanagan said several weeks ago her brother was diagnosed with cancer. “His immune system was compromised and he contracted COVID-19,” she wrote. “He fought as hard as he could but it was simply too much for his body. THIS is why we must #StayHomeMN.”

She wrote that someone feeling well could still be carrying the virus … “then you walk past the next Ron, my big brother, in public.

(Related story: Indian Country's COVID-19 syllabus)

“COVID-19 now has a personal connection to me. Please do all you can to prevent one for you,” she wrote, adding again, #StayHomeMN and #Stayhome

Flanagan said her brother’s politics and hers were often at odds, “we joked about it constanstant … but Ron was a very good man who had an amazing capacity to love. I miss him dearly.”

On January 28, their father, Marvin Manypenny, died at 72 years old. Flanagan told Minnesota Public Radio News, “I’m just so proud to be his daughter … When he passed, there was, frankly, a lot of wisdom that went with him. And we will miss him terribly.”

The Latest: Klobuchar's husband tests positive for virus 

 Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar says husband John Besser has tested positive for the coronavirus.

The former presidential candidate said Besser began feeling sick when she was in Minnesota and he was in Washington. She said he immediately quarantined himself. 

She said he sought a test and chest X-ray after he began coughing up blood, and was checked into a Virginia hospital with "very low oxygen levels which really haven't improved." She said he now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator.

Klobuchar said her doctor had advised her not to get a test.

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