By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
A LOCAL religious leader on Abaco is urging Bahamians to take COVID-19 seriously after claiming to have lost over a dozen friends and other community members to the virus in the last two weeks.
Abaco resident Bishop Silbert Mills described the COVID-19 situation on the island as worrisome and said the recent wave of deaths there speaks to the seriousness of the disease.
“We had a dozen people die in Abaco in the past two weeks and one died just within the last hour from Green Turtle Cay,” he said. “And so this is compelling that people are now taking this seriously and they have seen so many people who could’ve been here had it not been for COVID-19.”
Bishop Mills said it’s disheartening to see so many Abaconians losing their battles to COVID-19, only after having just survived the crisis of Hurricane Dorian in 2019.
He said one recent COVID-19 related death that really hit him hard was the loss of his former church member and musician, Tameco McHardy.
The 46-year-old—who survived Dorian—lost his short battle with the disease earlier this week after contracting it in the US.
Describing his character, Bishop Mills said: “He was one of the finest musicians that you would come across where he knew just not the contemporary song but he had a love for the old hymns and he could play them without any kind of rehearsal and he knew just how to stick his music in with the service.
“He was a very quiet person, and he also wrote music and he could’ve arranged stuff and make it almost sound original when he would arrange his music. He played with a couple of the local bands. He had a love for gospel music.”
According to close friends, many people were touched by his music.
The religious leader said McHardy, who was originally from Nassau, moved to Abaco several years ago, but later relocated to America after losing his home to the monster storm.
“He only relocated to the United States after Hurricane Dorian because he lost everything here in Abaco, but to survive Dorian and then to lose to COVID-19 is striking and we urge everyone to please take this COVID-19 serious and as serious as you can,” Bishop Mills told The Tribune.
Simmone Bowe, a close friend of McHardy, said his death has left the family and friends in shock.
“It shocked all of us because he’s young and healthy,” she told this newspaper.
“He just celebrated his birthday this month and he had so much to give, so much purpose and so much to contribute and it’s like why,” she said, also describing him as a talented musician. “...And when it came to music, he took that very seriously and he believed in excellence and he gave excellence.”
In view of recent COVID deaths, Bishop Mills urged Bahamians to keep their guards up.
He also said deaths serve as a wake-up call for all, especially those who were sceptical about the disease at the onset of the pandemic.
“I think it’s a wake up call and you’re seeing that at the vaccination sites where people are finally taking this thing seriously. People who were adamant that they would never take it are now on the line receiving their vaccination and so I think this is a serious wake up call for people in Abaco and indeed around The Bahamas,” he said.
Due to the high demand for the COVID-19 vaccine in Abaco, special provisions were made to the daily 8pm to 5am curfew to help ensure that all residents who wish to receive the vaccine will have the opportunity, the Office of the Prime Minister said this week.