LARGO, Md. — A Giant grocery store employee in Largo, died after being diagnosed with coronavirus, company officials announced Sunday.
The employee who died last worked at the Campus Way South store on March 16. According to Giant Food officials, the store was made aware that she was sick on March 28.
Zenobia Shepherd identified the victim as her 27-year-old daughter, Leilani Jordan.
"She was my butterfly," she said through tears. "I know she’s in heaven and she’s there welcoming everybody.”
Shepherd told WUSA that Jordan worked at the Giant store for six years as part of the business's disability program.
"She just loved her little job," the mother said. "She did whatever they needed helping people.”
As the spread of coronavirus worsened, Shepherd said her daughter wanted to keep working at the grocery store to make sure others could get the items they needed.
"She said nobody was showing up to work," Shepherd said. "She said, 'Mommy, I'm going to go to work. I'm going to still go to work. I want to help.'"
However, Shepherd said her daughter's health took a turn for the worse in late March.
Shepherd said what started as a cough later turned into something much more serious. She took her daughter to Walter Reed Medical Center for treatment.
"When she got out of the car, she fell. She collapsed in the parking lot," Shepherd said. "When they got her, she had a 104-degree fever. They put her in isolation. She called me and said, 'Mommy, I can barely breathe.'”
Shepherd said a medical team took Jordan to an isolation room and put her on a ventilator.
These are hard to look at, but it’s what coronavirus is doing to thousands around the world. Shepard shared these photos with WUSA9 as a reminder of how horrible this virus can be, and what we can do to prevent it.
Jordan eventually died from the virus.
Now, Shepherd said planning her daughter's funeral has raised even more challenges. According to the mother, no funeral homes are willing to take coronavirus patients due to the fear of the disease spreading.
The family is raising money for funeral expenses, hoping Jordan's spirit of generosity could spread to others.
"We’ve got to pull together and protect each other," she said.
Giant spokeswoman Felismina Andrade said the company is saddened by Jordan's death and that they are following health guidelines to help keep other associates safe. In addition, the company will be offering counseling resources to employees at Campus Way location.
"We are saddened to confirm that a store associate from our Campus Way South location in Largo passed away from COVID-19," Andrade said. "We were informed of her passing on Thursday morning by her family. We can only imagine the heartache they are experiencing and have offered our support during this difficult time."
Giant employee dies due to coronavirus
The Campus Way store is undergoing additional cleaning and disinfecting measures, Andrade said, stating that the company continues to work with health officials to take all steps needed to protect employees and customers while keeping their stores open.
In Columbia Heights, a separate Giant employee tested positive on April 2, and three others who worked with the employee were asked to self-quarantine.
"Over the last several weeks, we have put in place additional measures to ensure the safety of our associates and customers, including plexiglass shields at our registers, pharmacies, and customer service desks," a Giant spokesperson said.
"We have installed social distancing signage in our stores to remind and encourage our customers to stay six feet apart from each other, and we have increased our cleaning and sanitation procedures on high-touch areas throughout the store."