Detroit newlywed who lost husband to COVID-19: 'People are not taking this seriously'

Albert Barber died April 2 at age 39
Posted at 12:26 PM, Apr 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-07 12:28:22-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Albert Barber moved to Detroit from South Carolina to marry the love of his life, Latresa Rice, and start a new chapter.

He and Latresa were married in October. Last Thursday, the 39-year-old died from COVID-19.

Latresa is sharing her heartbreak, in hopes that others will take Michigan's stay at home order more seriously; she wants people to know this virus doesn't discriminate, and that anyone, regardless of age, can be at risk.

She said Albert went to get a haircut in late March, days before the stay at home was put in place.

“I told him not to go because I said on Monday they’re going to do a shutdown."

Latresa had traveled to California for a work trip earlier in March; she doesn't believe she was exposed during that time, and said she felt no symptoms in the several days following that trip.

Soon after Albert's haircut, she said he developed a cough, and then a fever, and then had trouble breathing.

"Beaumont Hospital told us that our symptoms were not severe enough to get the test done,” she said.

So Latresa and Albert self-quarantined, hoping Albert would get better. However, days later his symptoms worsened and he was admitted to Sinai Grace and then moved to Pontiac General. Latresa said he was moved due to lack of bed space at Sinai Grace.

“I had been calling every day. No one could go up there because of the virus. They were treating him as if he had it before he got the results. They told me it would take 10 days to get the results back because Michigan was so backed up," she said.

April 2, the day Albert died, Latresa received the results of his test; he was positive for COVID-19.

"He was a dynamic preacher, and awesome musician," she said. “I’m watching people who are not taking this seriously. They’re partying, they’re visiting everybody. And I lost the love of my life because he wanted to go get a haircut.”

Albert had sleep apnea, and high blood pressure, but nothing Latresa thought would make him a high risk for the virus.

Her only way to say goodbye to her husband, was through a screen.

"The doctor at Pontiac General used her personal cell phone to allow him to Facetime me to talk to me. And I was able to pray with him before they put him on a ventilator," she told Action News.

"A hairdo is not worth it. A birthday party is not worth it. There are other methods, you can do virtual parties as opposed to risking your life and the life of those you love you and those who are connected to you.”

And now, Latresa is dealing with the complications of planning a funeral during this pandemic; trying to have Albert's body moved from Detroit to South Carolina where he's from, and also facing the limitations of in-person visitation during this health crisis.

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