COVID-19 Victims’ Family Members Reflect On 1,000 Utah Deaths

Dec 10, 2020, 8:48 PM | Updated: 8:56 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A sobering and grim milestone in Utah Thursday. More than 1,000 people have now died from COVID-19, and Thursday it was announced that 21 lives were lost to the disease.

Several family members, like Kaye Lynn Kendall Balluff, reflected on the terrible toll COVID-19 has inflicted on the state. 

All it takes is a quick drive. Even if you speed by Balluff’s Millcreek home, you could tell right away she loves Christmas.

“Oh yeah, very much so,” she said with a smile.


Outsider her home are decorations, Christmas signs, and large shiny bulbs hanging from her tree. Inside are lit trees, decorations, and even pillows. It shows how much she enjoys this time of year, but she admitted this year is going to be different. 

Someone will be missed. 

“He was my brother. I loved him dearly,” she said. “I’ll still set a place for him at the table.”

Her brother, Mark Kendall, is one of the now 1,016 people in Utah who died from COVID-19. 

“Mark was number 20,” said Balluff.

However, to her, he was more than just a number. She doesn’t want to think of him as a sobering statistic.

“No, that was my brother,” she said. “He was my brother, and we were very close.”

One thousand. It is a milestone. Behind that number were fathers, mothers, children, and friends. People who mattered. 

People like Becky McKown, whose son still can’t believe she’s gone.

“It’s not something you expect to see because everyone says most people are fine and then you end up being the unlucky person where the worst possible thing happened,” said Aaron McKown of his mother. “She was only 65. She was pretty active. We would go hiking all the time.”

It’s always the little things we miss when a loved one passes away. 

That’s how Juliet Tuineau felt when she buried her husband Ray this summer when he died from coronavirus. 

“He always told me, ‘I knew the moment I saw it was you on our date that you were going to be my wife.’ I miss him,” said Tuineau.

The first Utahn to die from coronavirus was Robert Rose. He was 79-years old, and although his family misses him, his wife says she’s at peace with it all.

 “Looking at it from my husband’s point of view, he’d had four more surgeries, replacement of his hips and his knees. His back went out. And when he got COVID, you know what? I thought bless your heart. You’re through. You’re done. ‘Ye that are weary come home,’” said Connie Rose. 

She said her husband died within 36 hours of getting the virus. Because of that, she feels it was better than a long process such as cancer, Alzheimer’s, or dying in a car crash. 

“That would’ve been worse,” she said. 

Rose also thinks instead of focusing on the one thousand who died from COVID-19, we should be looking at the tens of thousands who lived after getting the virus. 

“Every time I hear these reports like, 4,000 new COVID testing positive, and 14 of them died, I think, well 3986 lived. Let’s celebrate,” she said. 

Christmas should be a happy time. Normally, there should be celebrations. 

However, many families aren’t there yet and some aren’t sure if they ever will be.

“He’d be alive today if he hadn’t contracted COVID,” said Balluff. “Thank goodness there’s a vaccine coming. But it’s too late for my brother. And too late for the other deaths.”

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COVID-19 Victims’ Family Members Reflect On 1,000 Utah Deaths