Cook County health’s Dr. Rachel Rubin loses both parents to COVID-19

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COOK COUNTY, Ill. One of the leaders of Cook County’s COVID-19 response is dealing with the loss of her parents, who both succumbed to the virus, within a two-week period.

Together for nearly 70 years, Harvey and Aviva Rubin first found their love at a theater in Chicago.

“They met because they were ushering on the same production,” said Dr. Rachel Rubin, of Cook County Public Health. “They shared so many things – voracious readers, intellectual, movie and theatre-goers, museums and travel. And politics. The conversations were always rich and full of what was going on around us in the world.”

Aviva and Harvey Rubin

Their bond, Rubin says, served as an inspiration to her career. Rubin, co-lead of the Cook County Public Health Department, never thought the task would become so personal, however.

“My dad had a fall and he went to the ER for a couple of hours,” she said.

A couple of days later, he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

At 93, Rubin revealed that she knew what it meant for her dad’s odds. Not long after, 91-year-old Aviva was also diagnosed. Soon, both were hospitalized. Her father died two days before Christmas on Dec. 23.

“After my dad died, my sister and I were able to go into the hospital to see [my mom] and we told her and we were able to be with her,” Rubin said. “And we put my brother on the screen. She was able to see him a little bit. So we were with her when we told her about my dad.”

Dr. Rachel Rubin, of Cook County Public Health

While Rubin’ mother has a slight rebound, ultimately her health deteriorated.

Rubin says she got to see her mother two days before she passed.

“I spent a couple of hours there with her and I held her hand and talked to her,” she said. “It was sort of a quiet goodbye.”

Reflecting on the loss, Rubin says if her parents were still alive, both would offer words of encouragement.

“I think my parents would tell me to be safe,” she said. “Because they would be worried about me. But I could tell them I’ve now had the vaccine -both doses – and I think they would say ‘just keep up the fight.'”

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