COVID-19 has claimed the lives of more than 1,200 in the state of Iowa since the start of the pandemic. More than half were residents of long-term care facilities, including Chris Mennen. His family tells Siouxland Public Media’s Sheila Brummer about their brother and the need to protect people at higher risk for the devastating disease.
“We are so heartbroken.”
Chris Mennen died on August 6th of complications of COPD and COVID-19 at the age of 62.
“He was a symbol for all of us to make the most of our gifts because so little was expected of him.”
That’s Mary Sue Moore of Milford speaking proudly of her brother who was born in Le Mars with Down Syndrome and spent part of his childhood at a special home and school in Nebraska.
“Our parents were very faith based on how they lived their lives and felt they needed to do everything they could to go out and find resources, or come up with themselves.”
As an adult, Chris Mennen lived at Village Northwest Unlimited in Sheldon.
When he could no longer take care of himself because of dementia and other health concerns Mennen moved to Prairie View Nursing Home in Sanborn in May of last year.
Moore says the facility shut down in February and took all safety precautions possible.
“Even with their stringent protocols there was an outbreak.”
But, Chris Mennen was vulnerable to the virus.
“He was born with an extremely fragile respiratory system. He was also obese and just didn’t have the immune system or strength to fight through it.”
Moore believes until there is a vaccine or better treatment options, extra precautions need to be taken.
However, she admits extra protection does come at a cost.
“But, this is a very highly, highly infectious disease it just solidified what I feel about it already. The downside for all of this of course is the isolation.”
That isolation deeply impacted her very social brother who thrived on the affection of others.
“You can’t touch them or hug them.”
Moore says her brother lived an amazing life, a life that mattered.
For more on Chris Mennen and how his parents helped break barriers for their son click here.