‘It’s so simple,’ Tennessee mother pleads the community wear masks after son dies from COVID-19

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A mother is pleading with the community to wear a mask after her son died from COVID-19 a week before Christmas.

Christopher John Ross Willett, 25, followed all the COVID-19 safety precautions, according to his mother Diana Willett.

As of Saturday, Willett herself was battling the virus in the hospital, just days after burying her son.

“There was nothing wrong with him. Nothing wrong with him,” Willett said.

Christopher Willett was on the autism spectrum.

Willett said her son worked in the deli at Ingles Market off Emory Road.

She said he loved his job.

“I bet the manager got real tired of him asking for a full-time job,” Willett joked.

Willett said when her son got home from work, he would still have his mask on, immediately headed to the shower and washed his clothes, before talking with her.

She has rheumatoid arthritis, and her son was very nervous about bringing COVID-19 home to her.

“He was always so careful, and he never went anywhere. He went to work, he came home, and the only other place he would go was he’d go to the grocery store, and sometimes we went to my cousin’s house. Other than that, he never went anywhere. Ever,” Willett said.

Willett said every night he came home from work, he would complain about the lack of people wearing masks in his store.

“Every day he would say, ‘I don’t understand mom. Do people just not care,’… and he said ‘there are signs on every door. There are signs on posts. There are signs everywhere, and 90% of the people who come in this store don’t wear masks,'” Willett said.

On Dec. 4, Willett said her son wasn’t feeling well.

She said he immediately went to get a COVID-19 test and he was positive.

Christopher Willett was doing okay and was nearing time he could be out of quarantine, when his cough started to get worse.

“I took my son to the hospital on Monday and dropped him off at the emergency room and he was dead on Friday night. And we buried him on Wednesday,” Willett said.

Willett said she talked with her son as much as she could while he was in the hospital.

He would call her whenever something wasn’t working, asking if she could call the nurse’s station for help.

Christopher Willett with his mother Diana Willett. Photo courtesy of Martha Harris.

“On Friday night, he had called me and said that he couldn’t change his TV channel, would I please call the nurse’s station and tell her. And I said, ‘sure,’ and he told me he had a high fever,” Willett said.

Willett said she talked with the nurse and learned his fever wasn’t that high.

“30 minutes later, his doctor calls me and tells me they’ve just put him on a vent. They had to put him on a vent, they could not get his oxygen levels up. And he said, ‘we’re doing everything we can. We’ll call you back,'” Willett said.

Then an hour later she gets another call from hospital staff.

“He says, ‘he’s gone into cardiac arrest and we’re doing CPR. We’re doing everything we can.’ And 30 minutes later, they called me back, the doctor called me back and said, ‘we’ve done everything we can. We can’t get him back,'” Willett said.

Willett said when her son first got sick, he told her he didn’t understand because he had done everything right.

She said her son would tell her they couldn’t ask people to wear their mask. They could only post signs.

“It makes me very angry because it made him angry, because he really truly didn’t understand why people won’t wear masks. It’s so simple,” Willett said.

Willett said her son grew so much while he lived in Knoxville with her, after he graduated high school.

He was funny and had a big heart.

Christopher Willett. Photo courtesy of Becca Willett.

“When he first moved up with here with me, he didn’t hug people, he didn’t do anything like that. And he got to the point when every time he saw my friends, his friends that he made, he would hug them,” Willett said.

Willett had to bury her son two days before Christmas.

She said her son did some Christmas shopping before he got sick, and the gifts proved how much it meant to him for people to wear masks.

He got his family members masks matching their personalities.

“He was a light. You know, he was my light. It was good to have somebody to come home to,” Willett said.

Willett couldn’t say it enough: please wear a mask in public.

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