Arlington Woman's Husband Was Tarrant County's 1st COVID-19 Death. Now, She's Fully Vaccinated

About 7% of Tarrant County residents are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, including the widow of the county’s first confirmed coronavirus death.

Tuesday will mark one year since Pat James died of COVID-19, according to his wife Jean. Jean James said her husband was first sent home from the hospital with “flu-like” symptoms.

“A few days later, he was really in pain. The nurse here tested his oxygen level, and it was really low. They came and got him in the ambulance," she said. "Like three days later, he was gone. We didn’t know it really was COVID until after he was gone."

Pat James was 77 years old when he died -- the first recorded COVID-19 death in Tarrant County.

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In those 77 years, he “didn’t know a stranger,” his wife said.

“He was kind. He was very gentle. At first, people would probably think he was quiet. Once they got to know him, they knew he was always thinking of a joke to tell them,” she said. “They still, to this day, say every time they think of him… they think of some of joke or situation where he made them laugh.”

One year later, James has received both of her vaccine doses in Arlington. As she approaches the anniversary of her husband’s death, she said she feels a sense of relief knowing she has been vaccinated and can spend more time with family and her church soon.

“It just took something off my shoulders. I felt much more comfortable,” she said. “I think people really need to get the vaccine and still be cautious. I know many people think now, ‘Oh, we don’t have to wear masks,’ but I really think we need to be cautious.”

Reflecting on the past year, James said she also contracted the virus, but her case was not as severe. They’re not sure exactly how they both got sick, she said.

“We didn’t know much about COVID. We heard that it was coming,” she said. “We had paper masks, but we weren’t wearing them. I don’t know why we weren’t wearing them. We didn’t know it was here, and we didn’t know that’s what he really had.”

To honor her husband’s life, James said she will donate blood on Tuesday. For the past decade, he helped lead blood drive efforts at their church.

According to Tarrant County Public Health, at least 436,582 vaccine doses have been administered as of this week.

Credit: Tarrant County Public Health
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