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Norman amid coronavirus: Sen. Elizabeth Warren talks about death of brother in Norman from COVID-19

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Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren speaks at an event for her presidential candidacy Feb. 1 in Iowa City, Iowa.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren opened up to The Atlantic Sunday about the death of her brother, a Norman resident who died from complications of COVID-19.

Warren’s brother, Don Reed Herring, died in Norman Regional Hospital April 21 after testing positive for COVID-19. 

Herring attended OU but enlisted in the U.S. Air Force before graduating, where he flew B-47 and B-52 bombers in 288 Vietnam combat missions. After retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1973, Herring lived with his wife Judith Hart in Newcastle, Oklahoma, until his death.

Herring was hospitalized for pneumonia in February and then moved to a rehabilitation facility, where he later tested positive for COVID-19. Herring died after spending six days in the Norman Regional Hospital intensive care unit.

The Atlantic published Warren’s thoughts about the situation.

“ … And then (Herring) got sick, and then he died, by himself. That’s the hard part — really hard part. It’s hard to process things like this because everything is happening at a distance. And human beings — we’re not set up for that. We’re wired to be with each other. It makes it hard.

“I lost three very important people in my life many years ago in what felt like a short period of time: my mom, my daddy, and my Aunt Bee. Each of them died differently. My mother, very suddenly and unexpectedly. My daddy, lingering cancer. I held his hand as he died. With my mother, I had been there on the day that she died, in the night. My Aunt Bee got sick and then couldn’t recover. But I was with them. And I was with my brothers and my cousins and my kids. And we shared memories; we grieved together.

“ … I talked to (Herring) on the phone. He was a little slurred, clearly had had a tough time. He wasn’t getting out of bed and walking around, but he was doing better. And then he took another dip and it went all the way down. More than 60,000 families across this country are going through the same thing right now. It’s something none of us were prepared for. It’s always hard to lose someone you love. But to lose someone when you have to wonder: What were their last days like? Were they afraid? Were they cold? Were they lonely? That is a kind of grief that is new to all of us. And my brothers won’t get over this. They just won’t. None of us will.”

Warren grew up in Norman and Oklahoma City and graduated from Northwest Classen High School. 

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