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Grieving St. Pete family awaiting justice now dealing with COVID-19

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Posted at 11:48 PM, Jul 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-30 23:48:36-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Linda Young knows her mom is strong. But now, she said her mom is battling COVID-19 inside a nursing home in St. Petersburg.

“My mom has always been a strong person,” Young said.

It’s the latest struggle in an already tough year for the family.

“I just pray that God doesn’t take my momma, too. He already took my brother,” she said.

Young’s brother, Scott Jenks, was murdered in January.

“He would be your best friend in two seconds, everybody loved him,” Young said.

Investigators said Jenks was beaten for more than an hour after leaving a sports bar and grill in St. Petersburg. According to court documents, a suspect is heard “…making numerous racial epithets indicative of a hate crime” on video.

Police arrested Kristoff King for murder. According to court documents, prosecutors intend to seek the death penalty.

The defense team also filed notice they intend to claim an alibi.

Now. Young is waiting for justice as the pandemic impacts the courts, too.

“It’s horrible, it keeps dragging on,” she said.

Her family is also navigating the virus impacting her mother.

“I know it’s gotta be dementia, but I think it’s gotta be part of the virus to where she looks like she’s fading away and I can’t stop it. I can’t even go give her a hug, or kiss or nothing,” she said of her mom.

Young said her mother is at Bon Secours Maria Manor in St. Petersburg. While she used to say hello through the window, she can’t anymore with her mother’s diagnosis. She said staff has helped her have a virtual visit.

At last check, the facility confirmed it has 13 residents who’ve tested positive and 9 staff members self-isolating.

A spokesperson released this statement:

“We continue to monitor the outbreak very closely so we can ensure the quick and appropriate care necessary to keep everyone healthy and safe. That includes regularly testing every associate and resident for COVID-19 as well as having all residents isolate in his or her room. These safety protocols, which include visitor restrictions, are based on guidance provided by the CDC, the Florida Department of Health and Governor DeSantis's Emergency Order to minimize exposure to other residents and associates.

While we understand how difficult it may be for families wishing to visit their loved ones, the health of our residents is our number one priority. In lieu of visits from friends and family, our Spiritual Care team continues to spend time with all residents to provide spiritual and emotional support. We also encourage family members to contact their loved one often through alternative means such as letters, cards, phone calls and even technology like FaceTime or Zoom. Our team is prepared and eager to assist them in connecting virtually to their loved one.”

“I wouldn’t know what to do if I lost her too I keep praying that she will get through this and I can finally go hug her,” Young said.

The Agency for Healthcare Administration said officials are evaluating the safest way to re-open long term care facilities. It released this statement:

“While visitation to long-term care facilities continues to be prohibited per the Division of Emergency Management Emergency Order 20-006, the Governor and public health officials are actively evaluating the safest approach to re-opening our long-term care facilities to family and friends. The State of Florida wants to ensure the health, safety and well-being of long-term care residents as we work to resume visitation. Please note, the emergency order restricts visitation with limited exceptions, such as end-of-life situations.”

State data on deaths associated with long term care facilities shows there have been 253 in Pinellas County, 144 in Hillsborough County, 110 in Polk County, 71 in Sarasota County and 82 in Manatee County.

Long term care facilities have dealt with COVID-19 cases and deaths across the state and have been the focus of state efforts in fighting the outbreak.

While Young deals with the loss and illness with her loved ones, she says she hopes others take the value of their own families.

“I learned that with my brother. He was just going up to watch a game, never came home and I regret not spending time with him more, talking to him more. My mom, I can’t even go see her or hug her. So I just want everybody to know there is no guarantee of tomorrow. Call your parents, be with your parents, be with your children. Be with your family as much as you can because one day, they might not be there,” she said.