McCrabb: Coronavirus has given us stories of hope, hopelessness

Wendy and Joseph Rice, of Southgate, Ky., became first-time parents when their son, Lucas James Rice, was born March 22 at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. SUBMITTED PHOTO

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Wendy and Joseph Rice, of Southgate, Ky., became first-time parents when their son, Lucas James Rice, was born March 22 at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown. SUBMITTED PHOTO

On Super Bowl Sunday, on the Miami University campus, state and county health officials made an announcement that everyone anxiously awaited.

“The tests were negative,” they told the media that gathered for the press conference.

With those simple words, we thought that might be the last time we’d worry about the coronavirus. We learned that two Miami University students, who just returned to campus after visiting China during winter break, were tested for the virus after showing symptoms.

Now, we have learned the lasting and powerful impact of COVID-19 that severely slowed down our economy, sent thousands to the unemployment line, eliminated sports, rewrote how students are taught and changed lives around the world.

From wedding dates being changed; funerals being held for family members only; drive-by birthday, anniversary and welcome home celebrations; restaurants closing, then re-opening with carry-out service only; and families dealing with loved one diagnosed with COVID-19.

Some have said from March to August has been the longest year of their life.

During the pandemic, we asked you, our readers, to share some of your stories. Here is a recap of some of those:

Bubble Babies

On Mother’s Day, we wrote about two new mothers who shared their experiences having babies in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the restrictions surrounding COVD-19, the number of people in the delivery room was limited, and after the babies returned home, they were unable to leave, unable to meet their relatives.

Call them Bubble Babies.

ExploreMother’s Day: 2 women tell their stories of becoming mothers in Butler County during coronavirus

Lucas James Rice was born March 22 at Atrium Medical Center in Middletown to Wendy Rice, 33, of Southgate, Ky. Scarlett Annabelle Mills was born May 1 at Fort Hamilton Hospital to Sarah Mayne, 20, of Hamilton.

They will always remember how the coronavirus impacted their pregnancies, delivery and first few months at home.

“It definitely increased the anxiety,” Mayne said about being pregnant during the pandemic. “You never knew what was coming, what was next. It made making plans harder.”

A family’s pain and mystery illness

A Middletown fourth-grader who was diagnosed with coronavirus and spent parts of four months in the hospital died last week after the family’s struggle.

Dorielis Reyes, 9, died Wednesday at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. Her ailments were called a medical mystery by the doctors at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and other physicians around the world were consulted.

“It’s so hard,” her mother, Doranny Paula, said earlier this month before her death. “You never expect your kid, so young, to get this sick.”

‘Music is so powerful, so healing’

In April, we told the story of the Belews. Even when Marge Belew’s health started declining about five years ago and she moved into Westover, a Hamilton retirement village, David Belew visited his wife of 67 years daily.

Then the coronavirus reared its ugly head, and for the first time in their marriage, Dave Belew, 88, was unable to see his wife, 88.

That’s when he thought of a unique way to reconnect with the love of his life.

At 6 p.m. every day — right after Marge finishes eating dinner — she received a phone call from her husband as he sat in their home. Then he simply asked: “Are you ready for a concert?”

ExploreCoronavirus: He can’t visit his wife of 67 years. So every night, this Hamilton man plays her a piano concert

He placed the phone on one of the two grand pianos in their house and played “Margie,” the same song that began every concert. Then he played four or five more songs and concluded with a hymn, an “inspirational way to end,” he said.

‘We’re really going to miss them’

Two Fairfield sisters, who had other health concerns, died from the coronavirus less than one month apart.

Brenda Harmon, died on June 23, two weeks after her 61st birthday;. her sister, Donna Newton, died on July 21. She was 58.

Christmas in July has been a long-standing tradition in the Harmon household, which included Donna, who moved in with her sister’s family years ago after losing a job. They would fill their home with Christmas cheer twice a year, complete with a small gift exchange with family and friends, said Brenda’s husband, Dale.

Part of their July celebration included a donation to the Fairfield Food Pantry, said their friend, Judy Dirksen.

“I know that they were just very devoted to one another,” she said. “We’re really going to miss them.”


We’re looking to profile people throughout our coverage area about how the coronavirus is impacting your daily life. If you’re interested in sharing your story about how you’re affected or adapting to the situation, call Journal-News reporter Rick McCrabb at 513-483-5216 or email

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