CHICAGO — A 61-year-old woman has become the first COVID-19 related death in Illinois.
Patricia Frieson, of Chicago, died late Monday night at the University of Chicago Medical Center, according to the medical examiner.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker announced the news at a news conference Tuesday.
“I’m deeply saddened to share the news that I have dreaded since the earliest days of this outbreak,” Pritzker said at a news conference.
The medical examiner has not yet said the virus caused her death but she had tested positive before she passed.
Frieson’s family said she suffered from bad asthma and when she went to the hospital Thursday, they thought it was just her asthma acting up.
But it was far worse.
Hospital staff red-flagged her because of her underlying condition. Her family said Frieson was diagnosed with pneumonia and then coronavirus.
Her brother Anthony Frieson called her a “wonderful human.”
“(She) had struggled with pain for her entire life,” he said. “She became a nurse to care for people. She had a deep love of God, Holy Spirit, and she lived a life trying to follow God’s will in everything she did and said.”
Frieson was a retired floor nurse and a traveling nurse, who was educated in Arkansas. She lived in the Gresham neighborhood.
Frieson comes from a large family. Her family said they have been around her this entire time because they thought her illness was only asthma. They weren’t avoiding her or even thinking about coronavirus.
But now they are worried more family members might have it. They are self-quarantined and being tested.
One of their other sisters is under surveillance at a hospital and has symptoms of the coronavirus.
“It is real. It is real. There is no fooling around with this,” Anthony Frieson said. “I know my sister had pre-existing conditions but it’s a very serious condition when you get these symptoms. … It’s terrible. We lost a wonderful person. … Everyone needs to take this as serious as possible.”