A respected Vancouver photographer is pleading with people to take the novel coronavirus more seriously, after COVID-19 claimed his mother and stepfather’s lives just hours apart.
“All these stories, all these moments, and now it humanizes everything that’s going on. It’s no joke,” Jason Jaspar told Global News.
“It’s something that is not going to go away until people realize that it’s no joke and people need to stay home.”
Jaspar’s mother and her husband, both seniors, lived in Washington state, where they were diagnosed with the disease less than a week ago.
Within days, both of them had been admitted to hospital and Jaspar said his mother became non-responsive Saturday night. She passed away early Sunday morning.
Four hours later, her husband died, too.
“The only comforting thing about this is that they’re together still,” said Jaspar.
Jaspar is well-known in Vancouver for his portrait photography with B.C. Women’s and Children’s hospital, where he documents newborn babies and growing families.
He told Global News the most crushing part of the tragedy is that he won’t be able to gather with his own family.
“To not be able to be there, especially for your mother,” he said through tears.
“The worst part about this is my brothers and I can’t be there, travel to be there for the arrangement.”
At least 210 people have died of the disease in Washington state, where it is believed the virus circulated for weeks before widespread testing and social distancing measures got underway.
B.C.’s death toll climbed to 24 on Tuesday, and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said that it will be months before the province can ease up on restrictive measures meant to slow the spread of the virus.
British Columbians are being urged to stay home whenever possible, to remain two metres apart from people in public and to avoid gatherings of any size that aren’t with roommates or close family members.
Even with those measures in place, Jaspar said he’s still shocked at how many people seem not to be taking the virus seriously.
“I see groups of parents with their kids in strollers walking around parks together,” he said.
“Give your head a shake. It’s everywhere.”
— With files from Negar Mojtahedi and Sarah MacDonald