Jazmond Dixon celebrated her 31st birthday Feb. 9. That night, when she learned some family members couldn’t make it to her birthday party, she drove around the St. Louis area, dropping off slices of cake to their homes. It would be her last birthday — one her loved ones will forever remember.
On March 17, Dixon started to feel sick. Five days later, she became the first person in St. Louis to die of COVID-19, spending her final moments isolated from most of her family. Only her mother was allowed by her side.
When Dixon first felt ill with flu-like symptoms, she went to an urgent care center, where doctors told her she needed to go to the emergency room. Shortly after arriving at a local hospital, doctors admitted her. A couple of days later, Dixon had trouble breathing, and doctors connected her to a ventilator. One week ago, she tested positive for the coronavirus.
Dixon did not have any pre-existing health conditions and had not traveled outside the country. She died Sunday.
Her death came as a shock to members of her family, most of whom could not visit her in her final moments because of potential community spread of the virus.
“With the exception of the last few moments of Jazmond’s life, [her mother] was not able to be there, and that is due to the seriousness of this disease,” said Belafae Johnson Jr., one of Dixon’s cousins. “If you could imagine that you’re not able to be with your child leading up to their death, it’s devastating.”
Her death followed that of a woman in St. Louis County on March 20.
The American Red Cross Missouri-Arkansas Region confirmed that Dixon was a biomedical services employee at the organization's Lindell Boulevard office. Another employee there tested positive for the coronavirus.
Kimberly Merritt-Watts, another cousin, said Dixon’s death leaves a gaping hole.
“Jazmond was like an extension of my immediate family,” Merritt-Watts said. “We were raised together; we were always together.”
Family members say Dixon was close to her mother, Penny Dixon, loved cooking and loved spending time with relatives.
Dixon graduated from Jennings Senior High School & College Prep Academy. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Harris-Stowe State University and, in December, received her master's degree in business administration from Lindenwood University. She dreamed of starting her own business.
“She wanted to open a business for baking,” Merritt-Watts said. “Jazmond definitely picked up that love for baking cakes from my grandmother, and she still used some of her old recipes.”
On Tuesday, a funeral home took Dixon’s body directly from the hospital to a St. Louis cemetery for burial. The funeral home and health professionals instructed family members to stay in the car, Johnson said. Now, Johnson and Merritt-Watts want St. Louis residents to understand the seriousness of the virus.
“We’re grateful that we have the opportunity to share her story to be what we hope and pray to be a lightning rod for people not just in St. Louis," Johnson said, "but for people all over the globe to understand the seriousness of this disease and the importance of us to listen to what health officials are asking of us to do.”
The family has created a GoFundMe to cover Dixon’s final expenses.
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