Crete family near Smithfield plant mourns loss of grandfather to COVID-19

CRETE, Neb. (WOWT) — Vy Mai says her grandfather was a hard-working immigrant, a war veteran, and a family man.

The Crete, Nebraska resident became sick a week ago Wednesday and he never left his home.

“He called me and said he wasn’t feeling well, he had a hard time breathing, his throat was really scratchy,” said Mai.

Her family took Tam Mai to the ER where he was diagnosed with COVID-19. They never saw him in person again.

“My last memory was seeing him on a ventilator. I don’t know how much he could hear me. He couldn’t talk to us obviously, and I told him.. Grandpa I graduate next week, you need to be strong, and you need to overcome this,” said Mai.

His wife also has the virus but she is doing better.

Vy says the family believes they got it from her aunt and uncle who they live with.

They tested positive but were asymptomatic and worked at a meatpacking plant.

“They are essential workers. We should be protecting them. I want to know what the company is doing to protect them and what they’re going to continue doing for the people who are dying because of this,” said Mai.

Vy’s family worked for Smithfield Foods in Crete. This is the plant that said it would close last week — but then did not.

She called out the company in a social media post for not closing. The company did respond to offering condolences, saying the Smithfield family aches at COVID-19’s devastation.

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