By MEREDITH DELISO, ABC News
(ATLANTA) — A Georgia teenager who lost both his parents to COVID-19 within a week is urging people to take precautions during the pandemic.
Justin Hunter told Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV that he and his parents had all tested positive for the coronavirus last month. He was asymptomatic, but soon his mom and dad started having symptoms.
“Their temperature skyrocketed, they had headaches, a horrible cough,” Hunter, 17, told WSB. “They just felt very lazy.”
After both his parents were admitted to the same hospital, his father, Eugene Hunter, 59, a musician, died on July 26, WSB reported.
“The last thing he said was, ‘I love you and I’m going to get better, and I’m going to keep fighting,"” Hunter, a senior at Johns Creek High School in the Atlanta metro area, told WSB.
His mother, Angie Hunter, 57, a human resources executive, died just four days later, on July 30, according to WSB. Before she passed, she told Hunter she loved him and “God has you,” he told WSB.
Johns Creek is in Fulton, the hardest-hit county in Georgia, with more than 18,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 398 deaths, according to state data.
Hunter said his family was careful and doesn’t know how they contracted the virus.
“We were a regular family, just trying to stay safe during this pandemic,” Hunter told the station. “My mom, when she would go to the store, she would be wearing a mask, she would be wearing gloves.”
Now, he’s urging other people to wear a mask.
“If you don’t wear it for yourself, wear it for the next person, because you could be saving that person’s life,” he told WSB.
Hunter, an only child, will now be staying with relatives, according to WSB.
A GoFundMe for the teen has already raised more than $216,000. In a post on social media, Hunter thanked people for the support and further reflected on his parents.
“Thank you for always believing in me when nobody else would,” Hunter wrote. “Thank you for teaching me what real love is.”
A football player, Hunter told WSB he plans to dedicate his senior season to his parents.
“Since I started playing, we always talked about me playing in college and then playing in the pros,” Hunter said. “They would have wanted me to keep going and get a scholarship and my schoolwork done.”
“They never raised me to sit around and feel sorry for myself in any situation,” he added. “I just gotta keep going and pushing.”
Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.