Family of courthouse employee who died from the coronavirus remembered as wife, grandmother

A metro Atlanta family is baffled and heartbroken after their loved one died of the coronavirus.

Rushia Johnson Stephens, 65, was a retired music teacher who was working at the DeKalb County courthouse in the clerk's office and last worked March 12.

"She was just a beautiful person all around. This thing is real. It has hit home. Again, I lost my sister. This is a pain. It is so hard for my family right now," Mrs. Stephen's brother, Kenyatta Johnson shared.

SEE ALSO: DeKalb County sheriff: Inmate, employee test positive for the coronavirus

Georgia Coronavirus Hotline available between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.: 844-442-2681

Johnson said Mrs. Stephen's death was so shocking because she did not have any underlying health conditions.

He said the wife, mother and grandmother was always quite active and did not start feeling sick until March 2 or 3. Mr. Jonson said his sister ultimately went to the hospital but was sent home. Last Thursday, her symptoms worsened, and she collapsed. That is when her husband called 911.

"My brother-in-law called me, her husband and said hey we are going to rush her to the hospital because she just passed out. And I was like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I am thinking now she will get the medical treatment she needs and they can see what is going on. But I promise you two hours later, I received a call from her daughter saying my momma is dead and it blew us away," Mr. Johnson recalled.

SEE ALSO: Second CDC employee tests positive for coronavirus

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Family members said the autopsy cemented their worst fears.

"We have confirmed it was the coronavirus. The autopsy confirmed that," Mrs. Stephens youngest brother revealed.

The DeKalb County court officials had already responded to the possible exposure. Mrs. Stephens's boss, DeKalb County Clerk Debra Deberry told FOX 5 she responded immediately since she learned of the possible COVID-19 exposure. Mrs. Deberry said she sent out letters to all of her employees notifying them of the situation and she picked up the phone to find a cleaning company.

"I employed a cleaning company to come and sanitize our office from top to bottom twice a day," Mrs. Deberry said.

LIVE: Interactive map tracks global spread of COVID-19

The Johnson-Stephens family is asking everyone to take this virus seriously and remain at home.

"This thing is real. It has hit home. I lost my sister. This is a pain that is so hard for me right now," the 49-year-old shared.

Mr. Johnson said his sister's funeral will take place Saturday at the Murray Brother's Chapel.

"Because of this era that we are in with the virus only 10 people can attend. We will be providing a virtual feed for family members, her sorority sisters of AKA and her friends to see,” he said.

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  • If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
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  • Stay home when you are sick.
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  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces


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