Alabama Man Dies of Coronavirus, Family Claims He Refused to Wear a Face Mask

A Tuscaloosa, Alabama Air Force veteran died from the coronavirus late last month and his family said he refused to wear a face mask. Joe Hinton's children said they begged and pleaded with him to protect himself, but he believed COVID-19 was a hoax. They hope their father's death will inspire others to wear face masks to slow the spread of the virus.

Hinton, 78, was a diabetic and lived his life as if nothing had changed in recent weeks. He developed a cough and was tested for the coronavirus. His test came back positive on June 18, reports WBMA. His symptoms only got worse, but when his family urged him to go to the hospital on Father's Day he refused. When he could barely talk with his family the following day, they called an ambulance at 9 a.m. Three hours later, he died. He passed away on June 22, only five days after he tested positive. The cause of death was respiratory failure caused by the coronavirus.

"He did not want to wear a mask, he did not think that it was a very big deal. He thought, like a lot of people, that it was being blown out of proportion," Hinton's daughter Amy told WBMA. He told them he was "not going to stop living my life, no matter what we did or said or begged him." So Hinton's son Tyler told him if he was not going to wear a mask, he should stay away from people. "I told him, dad, if you get this, you're probably going to die, and the hospital isn't going to let me see you, and he said 'yeah I know,'" Tyler recalled.

Tyler said he was not completely surprised when his father said he tested positive for the virus. "I'd call and check on him and calls were very brief probably five minutes long, and I'd ask how are your symptoms, Friday he said, no better no worse, Saturday he said, no better no worse but Sunday, on Father's day, he was struggling, and I knew then it wasn't good," Tyler said.

Amy and Tyler hope their father's story is the perfect example of why COVID-19 must be taken seriously. She said it was frustrating to see people not wearing masks and ignoring social distancing guidelines. They want to make sure Hinton's death means something.

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"I think that his death should mean something, and it shouldn't be just a senseless tragedy that my family has had to go through," Amy told WBMA. "I think that he would be proud and he's up there saying 'I guess I was wrong,' but if I can convince one person to wear a mask, that is one more person that could possibly have it and be asymptomatic and not cause someone else to lose their dad."

Coronavirus cases continue to climb in Alabama. On Saturday, the Alabama Department of Public health reported 51,294 coronavirus cases in the state since the pandemic began, up 1,402 since Friday, reports AL.com. Between July 5 and July 11, the state has seen 8,935 new cases. There were also nine more deaths reported, bringing the death toll to 1,086.