Ohio woman loses 3 family members to COVID-19

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — COVID-19 has attacked the family of Kelly Conkey Billups with a vengeance. She has lost three family members in a matter of days and a fourth remains hospitalized.

The Ohio woman’s brother, 51-year-old David Conkey, died Sunday in Mahoning County after testing positive a couple of weeks ago.

Lou and Judy Conkey, Kelly and David’s parents, both died at Mount Carmel Grove City Hospital. Lou, 77, and Judy, 75, both tested positive. All three had underlying health conditions.

Now, Kelly’s husband, Don Billups, is on a ventilator and in critical condition at Mount Carmel Grove City. Billups initially tested negative for COVID-19. But Kelly says doctors suspect it was a false negative and they are awaiting results of a second test.

Kelly’s daughter, Katie Garbrandt, says the hospital did make an exception to visitation rules to allow them to say goodbye to her grandparents.

“We were all gowned, all gloved, all masked,” Garbrandt said. “They met us at the door and escorted us the whole way through and they’ve been very, very supportive, very compassionate the entire time.”

Married almost 50 years, Lou and Judy Conkey did everything together, according to Garbrandt. They died within a couple of hours of each other on the same ICU floor at the hospital.

David Conkey had visited with his parents in early March. It was just a day later that he began developing flu-like symptoms.

Kelly and her daughter Katie are now quarantined at home for another four days. Neither are showing any symptoms, but they are struggling to deal with their grief.

“We’re hanging in there,” Garbrandt said. “We’ve gotten a lot of prayers, support and love from all of our family, friends, several people we don’t know as well as the hospital and that’s really what’s keeping us going.”

Garbrandt and her mother are urging everyone in the community to assume they may have been exposed to the virus and to abide by the state’s state-at-home order.

Kelly Conkey Billups is a realtor in Grove City and some of her fellow realtors have started a GoFundMe page to provide financial support.

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