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Idaho family, devastated by COVID-19, says goodbye to grandpa on iPad

Warren Waite died at a Meridian hospital just weeks after his son suffered a stroke due to COVID-19 complications.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Warren Waite died at a Meridian hospital just a week-and-a-half after he tested positive for COVID-19.

The 83-year-old's grandson - Brandon Waite - told KTVB on Tuesday that the family had to say goodbye to Warren using an iPad, due to hospital rules against visitors during the pandemic.

But Warren Waite wasn't the first family member to be hit hard by the virus.

Brandon told us his dad, Charles Waite, was staying with his parents in Meridian while he worked at Black Canyon High School in Emmett.

Charles got sick and got a confirmed COVID-19 test the week of Thanksgiving. So he went back to his home in Pocatello to recover. Less than a week later, on Nov. 30, Charles was found unresponsive.

At the hospital, the family learned that Charles had suffered a major stroke, the result of a blood clot caused by COVID-19. The stroke left Charles in the ICU, with difficulties moving or even speaking.

Then a day later, Brandon said, his grandfather, Warren, was feeling lethargic. He was taken to St. Luke's Meridian, where he was also diagnosed with COVID-19.

Charles had been living with his parents, and before he knew he was sick, he had unknowingly exposed his mom and his dad to the virus.

83-year-old Warren was admitted to the hospital on Dec. 1, and by the early morning hours of Dec. 10, he had passed away, leaving behind a wife of 60 years and three generations of Waite kids.

In his final hours, Warren got to see his family, but it was through a computer screen.

"We were told, you need to go and visit grandpa because once his lungs start shutting down that's it," Brandon said. We had to go into the chapel and talk to him over Zoom. You go in and you talk to the chaplain and he gives you this iPad. It's very, well they try to make it personal but there's not much that's personal with it."

According to Brandon, the family had to break the news to Charles - who continues to recover in a different hospital - that his dad was dying.

"You could tell his heart was breaking because his face just, he just cried and he was trying to form words but he couldn't," Brandon said. "And so just hearing him cry out both in sadness and just frustration, not even able to say goodbye to his dad, not even be able to tell his dad that he loves him, that's going to haunt me for the rest of my life."

Brandon said the inability to be there in person made a terrible situation even worse.

"The idea is to be with your family while they're holding your hand, while you die and grandpa didn't get that because of this, and my dad didn't get to say goodbye to his father because not only was he clear across the state in another hospital, but he can't even form the words," he said.

One small silver lining, Brandon said, was that his grandmother was able to get into the hospital room to see her husband one last time, after undergoing about 20 minutes of sanitation and getting into a complete hazmat suit.

Even then, though, their time together was limited.

Charles is now out of the ICU and hoping to get to a rehab facility to learn to walk and talk again. However, according to Brandon, Charles, who is 58 years old and a veteran, does not qualify for VA benefits to help pay for his recovery because he is not yet 60.

Brandon has set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for his dad's treatment.

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