EWA BEACH, Hawaii (KHON2) — An Ewa Beach man is among the 443 people who have died from COVID-19 in Hawaii. He was taking care of his wife after she got sick.

She has a strong message for anyone who is still not taking the necessary precautions.

Lee Ann Verano has had a smile and kind words for customers and co-workers at Foodland in Ala Moana for more than 30 years. That became difficult in August when she contracted COVID-19. Her husband Jesse took care of her.

“And then apparently he got sick. But he did not want to tell me that he was sick and I don’t know how long he was sick,” said Lee Ann.

She said, Jesse was unresponsive one morning. He was rushed to the hospital and that was the last time she saw him. He was 58 years old.

“Not seeing him is the hardest thing ever cause you can’t visit them and they don’t hear your voice and you hear their voice and I miss him so much,” said Lee Ann.

She and Jesse were high school sweethearts. They did not have kids, but they always enjoyed time with nieces and nephews. The pain of Jesse’s death gets worse for Lee Ann when she sees other people not taking precautions seriously.

“It’s hard to go outside and see people not wearing masks or distancing or gathering like crazy across the park, they don’t follow rules. I just want people to understand that it’s really serious. I mean we take blows in here for wearing masks, visitors telling us, oh we don’t believe in this. Well we believe in this,” she said.

She says it is a shame that some people might not realize how devastating COVID-19 can be until it is too late.

“Because once it hits home, that’s too late, cause it can be prevented by following the rules, wear a mask, six feet distance, don’t gather,” said Lee Ann.

Tragedy also struck again when her mother — who had been battling cancer — died two weeks later.

“I didn’t know what I was gonna do actually. I kind of lost myself, I took time off,” she said.

It has been nearly six months since it all happened, but she says the pain never goes away.

“You wake up and you think it’s all a dream. He’s gonna walk in but reality sets in,” she said.
“It’s been a few months but it’s still very hard?” asked KHON2.
“Oh yeah, it’s still fresh, you know,” she said.

But she is back at work and that smile is still always there. She says being around her co-workers and customers keeps her positive.

“I love just being here, just being around people. I just don’t want to be alone,” said Lee Ann.