Maryland mom dies of COVID-19 before meeting newborn

A Maryland community is grieving after a pregnant woman contracted COVID-19 and passed away before meeting her newborn son.

Wogene Debele – who was born in Ethiopia and well known in Takoma Park – leaves behind a husband and four children, including the newborn, Levi, according to family friends as well as Takoma Park Mayor Kate Stewart.

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“On so many levels, it’s a shock,” said family friend Tebabu Asefa. “This is COVID really attacking the very core of our humanity – spiritually, physically, culturally, and socially. It’s a vicious attack.”

A GoFundMe page launched to help support Debele’s family has already raised more than $168,000. Stewart also said that community members are currently planning a virtual candlelight vigil in Debele’s honor.

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Still though, the loss is especially difficult for friends and loved ones of Debele, who said they’re unable to mourn the way they’d like.

“It’s so painful to learn of this kind of loss, especially among people you love,” Anne Snouck-Hurgronje said. “And then to be restrained from doing the things that you want to do to reach out, to bring cards and gifts and food and diapers for the baby, and to give these people a hug, and to tell them in person that we love them, it’s really hard.”