ST. LOUIS (KMOV.com) -- Missouri reached its one year mark since the first confirmed coronavirus case was announced in St. Louis County. But after the first case, other cases quickly followed and sadly, so did the first coronavirus-related deaths.
A year ago today, Missouri Governor Mike Parson came to St. Louis to announce the state's first confirmed coronavirus case; a now-21-year-old West County woman.
Mark Eason’s sister, Juanita Graham was one of the first in St. Louis County to die of the virus on March 28. Eason said she died at St. Mary’s Hospital in Clayton just two days after testing positive.
“It’s like a movie, then three days later they said she’s gone and nobody can get to her,” Eason said.
Eason, a minister at Grace Bible Church in Florissant said his sister lived out God’s mission through her work as a teacher. Graham was known to treat the students she taught at Walter Ambrose Family Center Preschool like the children she never had.
“Not only was she outstanding in the school, but she was outstanding in her community and in her church. She taught Sunday school for kids, she was an advocate for children,” Eason said.
Graham left behind a loving husband and several siblings. She was one of the first of over 2,000 people in St. Louis County to die of COVID-19 to date. In St. Louis City, COVID-19 has claimed over 430 lives. One of the first to die from the virus was 31-year-old Jazmond Dixon, a Red Cross employee. Following her death, Dixon’s cousin, Belafae Johnson said he had no idea what the next year would bring.
“I literally did interviews with news stations and channels all over the world, the middle east, news station in Japan were reaching out, it’s been very sobering thinking of her being about one of the first,” Johnson said.
Through the dark times and grief, both Johnson and Eason said their faith and support from family has helped them cope.
“I believe in my heart the only hope that lies in this world is in God’s son, Jesus Christ,” Eason said.
There is a scholarship fund setup in Juanita Graham’s name that benefits Webster Groves High School seniors. Click here if you'd like to donate.