Sister of first coronavirus victim in Illinois dies from disease

Just over a week after her sister became Illinois’ first coronavirus fatality, Wanda Bailey also succumbed to the disease.

Bailey, 63, of Crete, died Wednesday morning of pneumonia due to COVID-19 infection, with hypertension, heart disease and COPD serving as contributing factors, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office. She was pronounced dead at St. James Hospital in Olympia Fields.

Bailey was the sister of Patricia Frieson, 61, a retired nurse who died March 16 after testing positive for COVID-19 just a day earlier. Their brother, Anthony Frieson, posted on social media Wednesday evening that his family had lost “another beautiful soul.”

“Pat and Wanda loved their family and more importantly loved their Lord,” he wrote. “In a blink of an eye, life can change. Please continue to pray for our family.”

Patricia Frieson, the first person in Illinois to die from the novel coronavirus.

By Thursday, the coronavirus had claimed 19 lives in Illinois.

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In the past week, as testing for COVID-19 has expanded, the number of fatalities and confirmed cases has climbed exponentially. On Thursday, Bailey was among the six people whose deaths were reported.

After Patricia Frieson died earlier this month, her family was already overwhelmed. Anthony Frieson, 57, told the Chicago Sun-Times that her being the first in the state to die from coronavirus was “just a barrier to our grieving.”

“It could have been the 10th, doesn’t matter,” he said. “The whole point is, she’s not here anymore.”

While Patricia Frieson was raised in Arkansas by her grandmother, Bailey grew up with her seven other siblings on Chicago’s South Side. They first lived in Bronzeville before relocating to a four-flat in Auburn-Gresham in the mid-70s.

Prior to Patricia Frieson’s passing, Bailey was also hospitalized, in critical condition in intensive care, as other members of the family self-quarantined while some awaited the results of their own COVID-19 tests.

“Around my sister [Patricia], we weren’t operating under any restrictions,” Anthony Frieson said after his sister Patricia died. “We didn’t know she had the virus. And so people were operating around her like normal, at the end of the day, hugging, kissing, just living life.”

At that point, her brother said the family was simply “hoping that no one else dies from this.”

On Wednesday, that worst fear was realized.

Survivors include her husband and at least one son, according to a family friend.

Contributing: David Struett

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