MARSHALL, Minn. (WCCO) -- As debates over masks and vaccines mark the beginning of a new school year, one Minnesota family is opening up about their heartbreaking loss from the pandemic.
Week Day, 6, died this past spring from COVID-19 complications.
The Minnesota Department of Health says she is one of three children under the age of 19 to lose their life to the virus.
WCCO traveled to Marshall where the girl's family has struggled with questions and grief for months.
With the help of an interpreter, He Lars, his wife Mu Mu, and little Michael shared their loss. They are Week Day's mom, dad, and 2-year-old brother.
Still, the love of a child is a language easy to understand.
"It crushed my heart," He Lars recalled.
"When that happened it was so painful to go through," her mom, Mu Mu said.
Day had barely a month left of first grade where they wore masks all year at Park Side Elementary in Marshall, where she adored drawing and dancing.
"Once she come home she like to talk about those things," Mu Mu said.
Day spiked a fever at the end of April. Her mom says after she didn't get better for a few days, she called 911.
"She walk by herself to the ambulance," her mom added.
But she says her daughter was checked out by a doctor and sent home.
"Friday afternoon, Friday night she went again to the emergency [room], but she walked by herself," Mu Mu said.
That's when Day was transferred to a hospital 90 minutes away in Sioux Falls.
"The doctor say, 'She's going to be OK ... she's going to be fine' at that moment. When they hear the doctor say she going to be OK they feel much better at that moment," He Lars said.
Sadly, she wasn't. She died two days later. COVID precautions kept them apart.
"It was really sad because the child go to the hospital without parent. That was really sad thing ... because he didn't see the last moment of his daughter," He Lars added.
The family emigrated from a refugee camp in Thailand to Minnesota five years ago, never imagining a global pandemic would bring such pain to their new start.
They believe a language barrier and lack of hospital interpreters made their daughter's final days even more difficult.
"If there son or daughter is in the hospital they need to let them with the parent, that's what they want to say about that," He Lars said.
No one else in the family developed COVID-19 last spring. Doctors said Day had no underlying health conditions.
We asked the family, and they believe even after what happened to them that parents should feel OK sending their kids to school this year. They believe the school took all the precautions they could.
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