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Grieving family urges Weld County to take COVID-19 seriously

May Bunjes died on Thursday. Only her daughter, in full protective equipment, could be there, holding her hand.

GREELEY, Colorado — May Bunjes, 71, of Greeley, died from complications due to COVID-19 a year after receiving a lung transplant, according to her family.

Her daughters and husband said she went to the hospital with COVID-19 in late October after passing out at home. After a few days of treatment, including Remdesivir and steroids, the daughters felt she “was out of the woods,” and Bunjes received clearance to return home. But she remained weak and struggled to breathe.

“She had passed out again, and so they called the ambulance,” said Jeanette, the oldest daughter.

Bunjes found herself back in the hospital for one last time. It's there where she had the last conversation with her husband Fred over a video chat as the hospital limited visitors.

“We finally panned her around to my dad and she took every breath she had and her face lit up and she said, ’Hi baby!’ And she said, ‘I love you!’" her daughter explained of the last call.

May Bunjes died on Thursday. Only her daughter, in full protective equipment, could be there, holding her hand. Her husband and other daughter, Jaime, were back at the family home in Greeley.

“It was it was the hardest thing ever to say goodbye to her over a screen,” said Jaime.

May Bunjes spent 21 years working as a court-appointed special advocate for abused children. She had a passion for the Broncos and for charity work in Weld County, a county with leaders refusing to enforce the state's COVID-19 restrictions as cases skyrocket.

“My mom was such a bright light in this community. She gave to this community. She loved greatly she loved this community,” said Jaime. “I feel like they failed her and you walk into certain local businesses and it's almost like a joke and to us that have lost someone to COVID, it's like a slap in our face.”

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More than 2,800 people have died with COVID-19 in Colorado. More than 180 have died in Weld County, and about 25 people are dying every day in the state as the holidays approach. May Bunjes' family hopes their mother, once again, can be a reminder of the good we can do for others.

“All we're asking you to do is wear a mask because I don't wear this mask for me. I wear it for you because I care about you,” said Jaime. “And that's all we're asking, and people think it's such a burden on their lives, but I don't want anyone to go through what our family has.”

The family has begun a campaign to "Mask Up for May" with printed T-shirts and masks. They said proceeds will go to local charities their mother supported.