RALEIGH, N.C. — Recalling his grandmother, the Rev. Mycal Brickhouse sorts through the treasure box in his memory: how she never let him miss Sunday school, how she cheered his becoming a pastor, how she made him fetch her a sweet tea when he got home from school.
At 67, Patricia Brickhouse, better known as "Mama," had survived cancer. So when the coronavirus pandemic arrived, she stayed at home in Fayetteville, keeping clear of grocery stores and crowds. Coronavirus struck her anyway, taking her in July after almost month in the hospital.
"This pandemic does not discriminate," said Mycal Brickhouse, who leads Cary First Christian Church. "We have to be careful not to create a facade of invincibility. Because we don't control the outcome. It's a hard reality to grasp."
North Carolina has passed another in a bleak series of pandemic mileposts: 5,000 deaths.
The N.C. Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday reported 5,005 fatalities since COVID-19 first hit the state and 332,261 cases.
That's five times the number of combined fatalities from every hurricane in the state's history.
That's almost 1,000 people in one month. North Carolina recorded 4,032 deaths on Oct. 21, The News & Observer reported.
And the pandemic is far from over.
On Wednesday, the U.S. surpassed 250,000 coronavirus deaths, and on Saturday, it was 254,451. With winter coming, experts are predicting even more. Health leaders are cautioning that hospitals both large and small, urban and rural, could be overwhelmed with the volume of patients. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has strongly advised people not to travel for the holiday to help the country avoid a massive spike in cases.
'HOW SERIOUS IT IS'