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Washington state couple married 52 years die of COVID-19 on same day

Merle and Delores Tofte tested positive for COVID-19 and died on the same day, three days later.
Merle and Delores Tofte tested positive for COVID-19 and died on the same day, three days later. Michelle Nusom Taylor/Facebook

Just months away from their 53rd anniversary, an elderly Washington couple died of COVID-19 — on the same day.

On March 13, Merle and Delores Tofte became the second and third people to test positive for the rapidly spreading virus in Clark County, NBC-affiliate KGW8 reports.

They were 85 and 86, respectively.

READ MORE: Family uses walkie-talkie to say goodbye to mom dying of coronavirus

In a heart-wrenching Facebook post shared by daughter Michelle Nusom Taylor, she wrote: “They died within hours of one another.”

“I am in quarantine until March 26th. I can’t be with my loved ones. I can’t comfort my children, who have just lost their grandparents,” she continued. “I can’t hold a service for my parents or attend their burial. … I wanted time and privacy to grieve but if their story can save a life, it needs to be told.”

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She finished off the post with a simple message: “I love you mom and dad,” along with a heartbreak emoji.

In the hashtags, Taylor says to follow the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines and “#doitforMerleandDee.”

The couple died in separate rooms, on separate floors, at Southwest Washington Hospital, due to quarantine regulations during the coronavirus crisis, according to KGW8.

But their lives weren’t without a lot of happiness.

READ MORE: 101-year-old Italian man recovers from coronavirus, gets released from hospital

“They were gracious, they were kind, they were funny, and they loved us,” Taylor told KATU-TV of her parents.

The couple, per Oregon Live, met in the 1960s and got married in 1967. The following year, they bought a Portland printing business, Herren Printing Co.

Merle, a musician, passed on his passion to Delores. They started a fun band, which they named “Dee and Mee,” and played at lodges, parties and even on cruise ships, the publication reports.

“Kissing, hugging, holding hands and cuddling were four of their favourite things to do,” the couple’s obituary reads.

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“They were inseparable and their love for one another was an inspiration for those whom witnessed it.”

While their children couldn’t enter the room before their death, Taylor said staff helped them say goodbye one last time.

“They did something I will be forever grateful for,” she told KATU-TV. “They set up a FaceTime call with my parents, each in a different room, with a chaplain with their grandchildren and children so we could all say goodbye to them.”

“We will all be forever grateful for that.”

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca