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Remembering A Former Schoolteacher Who Died Of COVID-19

NOEL KING, HOST:

Whitney Moore Taylor, a second-grade teacher, was one of almost 200,000 Americans who have died of COVID-19. She was getting a counseling degree and also working in early childhood therapy. Her mom, Paris Thomas, says Whitney loved kids.

PARIS THOMAS: She has an 11-year-old daughter. There is a recording where they're saying this little rhyme together - good night, sleep tight - you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WHITNEY MOORE TAYLOR: Sleep tight.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Don't let the bedbugs bite.

TAYLOR: Because if they do...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: They going to hurt, and they might pinch your booty.

TAYLOR: Bad.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Hurt.

TAYLOR: We're going to have to put some Neosporin on that booty...

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Yep-er-doodle-doo (ph).

TAYLOR: ...On them bumps if you let them bedbugs bite, girl. Good night. We love you.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: Love you.

THOMAS: Especially when she was teaching. She was so into the kids. She loved working with the kids. She had this Thanksgiving (ph) - she wanted to make sure that the children had Thanksgiving dinner. You know, she'd have it in her class, their little Thanksgiving party. She had a little freezer, a little refrigerator, she put in to have, like, snacks for the children, you know, in case somebody hadn't eaten anything. This is the kind of person my baby was - the caring soul that she had, you know? Just a loving person.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now, when Whitney Taylor felt sick last month, she thought it was lupus. She had chronic problems with her lungs and kidneys and heart, which made her vulnerable to COVID-19.

THOMAS: She would tell me, Mom, I wish I had a new body because there was just so much damage that lupus had already caused. But she was not going to let that stop her. For the past 10 years, I'd just go with her to a lot of her doctor's appointments. I would always cry. She would always tell me, don't cry, Mama, just don't cry; it's going to be OK. I mean, she was always, always stronger than I was. And I hear her saying that now as I am about to cry - don't cry, Mama, it's going to be OK - don't cry. It's just - we were very close, me and her. I just want people to know. I mean, to me, just one person dying is one person to me. What if that was your child, your mother, you know, that one person? No one should still be dying from COVID-19.

KING: Paris Thomas of Hobbs, N.M. Her daughter Whitney Moore Taylor was 31 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF OTTO A. TOTLAND'S "CLOSER") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.