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Excerpt from "24 hours, 9 COVID deaths: A snapshot of one deadly day in one Michigan community"

by Danielle Salisbury

This article was released discussing various deaths from COVID-19 within 24 hours, and Jessie W. Smart, my father, was mentioned. I'm not sure how we missed this, but it was a nice piece.

7:21 a.m.

It was the second time Jessie Willie Smart had tested positive for COVID-19, and this time the virus was unforgiving. “It just came hard, like hardcore. And it took him out fast,” said Rajah Smart, the second of Jessie’s three sons. Rajah, who lives in Tennessee, received a call about the positive test two days before Jessie Smart, 74, died in a Genesee Township nursing home. COVID-19 is the only listed cause. His father, who was vaccinated against the illness, hadn’t been eating or drinking, Rajah was told, but his son had questions. For one: How did he contract the virus?

“It just kind of makes you think about was there some due diligence applied to this situation? And maybe his life could have been saved.”

In August, Rajah received word from the state that Jessie had COVID-19, but at that time, he was not especially sick and the nursing home reported he was negative. The second time, both entities verified the diagnosis.

Jessie served in the Army and worked more than 30 years for General Motors as a supervisor and superintendent within Buick City and Fisher Body, both now closed. He was a swanky, stylish dresser who moved about Flint with what Rajah, a writer, called a “handsome arrogance.”

But his health had been failing. He went to live in 2020 in an assisted living facility. He had dementia and diabetes.

The diabetes had taken both his legs, a hit to his pride, his son said. “Along the way, he just started to kind of fade,” said Rajah, who took a very different life than his father, earning a doctorate and working as an assistant dean at Tennessee State University.

He never felt connected or close to Jessie, absorbed in “shop culture,” though it was Rajah who stepped up after his mother had a stroke. Rajah last saw his father several months earlier.

Jessie was lucid, teased Rajah for not calling. “I did not think COVID was going to take him out. I didn’t.”

Full article at:

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