Four Virginia children who lost their parents to COVID-19 are now in the care of an aunt and uncle in South Carolina.
Relatives of Kevin and Misty Mitchem described their last conversations with their loved ones, who were in their 40s and chose not to get vaccinated.
“Kevin texted me and he said, ‘I love you. Please take care of my children. And so I am,” Janine Sutter said to WYFF-TV, the NBC affiliate in Greenville, South Carolina, as she fought tears.
Sutter and her husband, Howard, of Pickens County, are now the guardians of their three nieces and one nephew, who range in age from 11 to 17.
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Misty Mitchem was Sutter’s younger sister. She died of COVID and then her husband did.
Sutter said family members had spoken to Kevin and Misty Mitchem, of Stafford County, Virginia, about getting vaccinated.
“She had said something to my mother about [how] they weren’t sure about it. Another comment that I heard one of them make was, ‘I guess we should’ve taken the time to go get it,” Sutter said. “And then there were some confusion apparently, because at some point during this they thought that there was a cost for it.”
The Sutters are vaccinated and the children will get their second doses soon.
“We got here to South Carolina on a Saturday, and I took them to be vaccinated on Sunday,” Sutter said.
As the family moves forward, Howard Sutter said he hopes compassion will be the focus.
“Seeing some people attack viciously their parents for not being vaccinated after they’re both gone, I’m like, ‘What good are you doing?’”
They said they were grateful to scores of people who had helped them with food, clothing and other supplies.