When asked to describe his mother, one of the first things Frederick Cohen will tell you is about her love for kids.
In addition to raising her five boys, Clarkster Toure went to work every day for 12 years to drive a bus load of kids to and from school.
Most recently, she drove for Mesquite ISD.
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It’s a job Cohen said his mother loved.
"She spent her life trying to do the best she could and be the best that she could be, and she accomplished that,” said Cohen.
But at the end of her life, the strength she showed throughout it proved no match for COVID-19.
"My definition of my mother is that she was an angel on this Earth that went back home. That's it,” said Cohen.
Cohen said his mother first went to the E.R. at the beginning of October after feeling sick on a weekend away celebrating her 10th wedding anniversary.
“She was coughing real bad,” said Cohen.
Toure tested positive for the virus.
She was given something to treat asthma that previously hadn't been much of a problem for her and was sent home.
She’d go back twice more before she was admitted.
"It messed with her lungs. It took her breath away,” said Cohen.
About a month after her diagnosis, Cohen said his mom called him from the hospital telling him to prepare her room for her return to home.
She was optimistic she was on the mend.
Then she took a turn and was placed on a ventilator.
Within days, she was gone.
"That's the hardest thing,” said Cohen. "People telling you that you can't see your mother, that it doesn't matter that you're her child.”
Cohen said they believe Toure got the virus from a friend at church.
He said though she’d initially been skeptical of COVID-19’s danger, she’d been careful on her bus route each day wearing both a mask and gloves.
Their family hopes others will do the same.
"Even now, she's watching over people, and she'd want everybody to be safe, stay cautious and remember that COVID is real,” said Cohen.
Due to HIPPA regulations, Mesquite ISD said it couldn’t comment on Toure’s death.
The district released a statement:
Please know that contact tracing is performed for every COVID-19 case of a staff member or student, and everyone who has been in close contact is notified immediately. Here are our bus-related COVID-19 safety protocols:
- Hand sanitizer application is required before entering the bus and before exiting the bus.
- Staff and students grades pre-K to 3 are highly encouraged to wear their masks at all times, and students grades 4-12 are required to wear their mask at all times.
- The bus drivers wear their masks during any interaction with the students or other staff member(s).
- The buses are sanitized between routes.
- We are limiting the number of students allowed on the bus simultaneously.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.