A Barbadian entertainer, Desmond Weekes, lost two younger sisters in New York within days to the dreaded novel coronavirus (COVID-19), and these fatalities helped push deaths of Bajan-New Yorkers to over 20.
The two New York resident sisters who migrated to the US some 40 years ago, Jean Weekes-Husbands, 65; and Almonda Weekes, 68, passed away in three days of each other of COVID-19 complications in a Brooklyn hospital earlier this month.
Desmond Weekes, who is resident in Barbados is a former lead singer of a yesteryear Spouge band, the Draytons Two.
“I can’t get them out of my thoughts, because growing up we slept in one bed as kids, we shared one cup and one cake of soap and the same spoons and the same forks,” the elder Weekes told local Barbados media of their childhood days in Carrington Village, St. Michael. “We slept in a little bed and my mother was at the foot … It is tough because I can’t go and see my sisters, can’t wish them goodbye, knowing they are in hospitals by themselves.”
But as Desmond Weekes grieves there has emerged a report of a bright spot among the Bajan New York community, with news of a Long Island resident, Douglas Mayers, successfully fighting off this scourge that has taken thousands of lives in this state alone.
The Barbados Nation newspaper last Sunday reported that the 78-year-old, “a prominent voice on Long Island for America’s oldest and largest civil rights organisation, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), is back enjoying a healthy appetite after a serious battle with the deadly coronavirus.”
“Considering that at one stage last month I was hooked up to sophisticated machines in a hospital, was given different medications, didn’t have a sense of taste, ran high temperatures, was afflicted with congested lungs and classified as pre-diabetic and hypertensive, I have come a long, long way,” the Bajan-New Yorker was reported saying.
According to Mayers, he picked up the virus from a friend who had driven him and wife. Arlene, home from the airport when they returned from a holiday abroad.
Fortunately the wife was unaffected.
The newspaper described Mayers as a community activist “and long-serving president of the Freeport branch of the NAACP and over the decades, was the plaintiff in civil lawsuits, spearheaded many campaigns designed to break the back of racial discrimination, while demanding opportunities in housing, education and business for people of colour”.
Barbados’ Consul General in New York, Mackie Holder, has said that most of the Bajan-New Yorker virus-related deaths was among elderly women with pre-existing health conditions and were over 60-years-old.
Holder strongly believes that the number of Bajan-New Yorker deaths are ‘under-counted’.
“There are obviously some who have passed away from COVID-19 that we do not have a report on.”
Speaking by phone on a local Barbados radio programme he spoke of ‘a little incident over here with some folks at a party.’ Since the virus took hold of New York there were reportedly one or two Bajan community parties from which there sprung allegations that persons contracted COVID-19.
Holder said, “some folks are hiding the fact they may have tested positive for COVID-19 or that their loved ones had passed from COVID-19.
“But I can confidently say there are more than 20 in New York so far.
“The Brooklyn community is reeling and family members are bawling.”