‘More than a statistic’: COVID-19 death hits close to home for WKRG reporter Daniel Smithson


PENSACOLA, Fla. (WKRG) — The COVID-19 numbers you hear every day on WKRG News 5 or read on Facebook could be starting to become monotonous.

Every day, you hear of new cases and new deaths. I have even been guilty of tuning out.

Everything changed Tuesday.

As a reporter for WKRG News 5, I have been reporting on COVID-19 statistics for months. Tuesday, my 75-year-old grandmother Lois Yarbrough became one.

I’ll tell you how she’s much more than that.

My grandmother, a Baldwin County resident, contracted COVID-19 about two weeks ago and unfortunately lost her fight. She was one who had the underlying health conditions officials have been warning about.

When I lost my grandmother to COVID-19, I couldn’t help but think of those people I see on Facebook who constantly downplay the virus and question its validity.

Yes, the virus’ survival rate is high. See? I beat you to it. However, I want to tell you (if you’ll listen) what the virus took from me and the world in hopes everyone out there will take it more seriously.

When my grandmother died, this world lost the most contagious laugh. It was a sometimes shrill, roaring cackle, but it was contagious and would always make you smile.

When my grandmother died, this world lost one of the best cooks. My grandmother would never let me eat without asking if I wanted seconds. I always took her up the offer because it was just that good.

She loved to eat her cooking, too, and don’t give her a Diet Coke. She wants the real thing.

When she died, the world lost one of the biggest spirits. She loved angels and Christmas time. I can still hear her steadily hum “Walking In a Winter Wonderland,” while kicked back in her Lazy Boy.

And when I lost my grandmother to COVID-19, the world lost one of most loving people. One of her favorite things to do was tell my family she loved us.

I’ve shared my story to tell you COVID-19 deaths are more than a statistic on a screen. They’re a wake-up call, even for a journalist who has been reporting on them day after day for months.

There’s a life behind those numbers, and my grandmother’s life was a special one.


Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

State Cases State Deaths

Latest Videos

More Video

More Local News

Trending Stories