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Tuscaloosa man dies of COVID-19, family says he refused to wear mask

Tuscaloosa native, Joe Hinton, died of COVID-19. (Hinton Family){p}{/p}
Tuscaloosa native, Joe Hinton, died of COVID-19. (Hinton Family)

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBMA) — A Tuscaloosa family is encouraging people to wear masks after their father died of COVID-19.

Amy and Tyler Hinton say their father, Joe Hinton, thought COVID-19 was a hoax and didn't believe in wearing masks.

"He did not want to wear a mask, he did not think that it was a very big deal. He thought, like a lot of people, that it was being blown out of proportion," Amy said about her father.

Joe Hinton was 78-years-old and a diabetic, so his family urged him to take care of himself during the pandemic.

"He was like I'm not going to stop living my life, no matter what we did or said or begged him," Amy said.

"I told him 'dad I know you're not going to wear a mask, but you should still try to stay as far away from people as you can,' and he just wouldn't do it," Tyler added.

Hinton, who is an Air Force Veteran, stuck by his beliefs and continued living normally.

"I told him dad if you get this, you're probably going to die, and the hospital isn't going to let me see you, and he said 'yeah I know,'" Tyler said.

Hinton developed a rough cough and decided to get tested for COVID-19. His results came back positive June 18th.

"Our joke between us was,' daddy's not going to stay home for two weeks,' but he promised us," Amy said.

Tyler says he wasn't shocked when his dad called him with the positive result.

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"We had actually made plans to see each other, and he said 'well we're going to have to actually put that on hold, I got COVID,' and I kind of knew that was going to be it," Tyler said.

Hinton's symptoms worsened quickly.

"I'd call and check on him and calls were very brief probably five minutes long, and I'd ask how are your symptoms, Friday he said, no better no worse, Saturday he said, no better no worse but Sunday, on Father's day, he was struggling, and I knew then it wasn't good," Tyler said.

"I was kind of in a panic, I could tell that something wasn't right," Amy said.

Although the family urged Hinton to go to the hospital on Father's Day, he refused. Hinton could barely respond to his family Monday morning, so they decided to call him an ambulance around 9 a.m. He died less than three hours later.

Hinton passed away June 22, less than five days after testing positive. His cause of death was respiratory failure caused by COVID-19.

Amy says it's very frustrating seeing people not wearing a mask after her father died from the virus.

"I don't understand why it's so inconvenient to wear a mask, if we know that can help stop the spread. If you're so against it, just don't go anywhere," she said.

"The most important thing for people to take away from this is, you don't want yourself or your loved one to have gone the way that he went which was alone, the only support he had was me on the phone, and I don't even know if he could hear, and if you get admitted to the hospital, you're going to die alone, and that's such a difficult thing to wrap your mind around," Tyler said.

The siblings said COVID-19 is real and their dad's story is a prime example.

"I think that his death should mean something, and it shouldn't be just a senseless tragedy that my family has had to go through, and I think that he would be proud and he's up there saying ' I guess I was wrong," but if I can convince one person to wear a mask, that is one more person that could possibly have it and be asymptomatic and not cause someone else to lose their dad," Amy said.

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Joe Hinton's family said he had a big heart, loved Tuscaloosa and had hopes of watching Alabama Football play in the fall.

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