As the coronavirus pandemic intensified, Leilani Jordan insisted on going to her job as a clerk at a Maryland grocery so she could help seniors, her mother said.
She had challenges of her own, as a worker with cerebral palsy. But as shoppers around the country raided shelves for necessities in early to mid-March, Jordan wanted to make sure the elderly got theirs.
“It’s just crazy here at work … but somebody’s got to do it,” Jordan said, according to her mother, Zenobia Shepherd. “I’ve got to help the older people.”
“She was doing everything for them: Helping them put their groceries in their walkers, to helping them get into lifts,” Shepherd said.
Then the 27-year-old became sick.
The clerk for a Giant Food store in Largo, a few miles east of Washington, was hospitalized with coronavirus in March and died last week, her family said.
“It was my baby!” Shepherd, crying, told CNN’s “New Day” Wednesday. “All she wanted to do was just help people.”
It isn’t clear how Jordan got Covid-19. But she was working in a type of essential business where people still must gather at in a time when health officials would rather people stay apart – and her family feels she wasn’t properly protected.
“She (told me), ‘Mom, there is no masks here, there is no gloves, there is no hand sanitizer, ” Shepherd said.
Jordan last worked at the store on March 16, the company said. Giant Food has said it was saddened to confirm Jordan died of coronavirus.
“We can only imagine the heartache they (her family) are experiencing and have offered our support during this difficult time,” the company said.
About the family’s accusations about protection, the company said: At the time of Jordan’s last day of work, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention wasn’t recommending masks, so the company didn’t provide them.
Since then, the CDC has updated its recommendations, and the company now is supplying its workers with plastic face shields, which they can wear if they choose.
Giant stores have always had hand sanitizer and/or cleaning products available for workers, the company said, adding the company has no record of a request or complaint from Jordan.
The company mandates only that its food service workers wear gloves, but other workers always have been allowed to wear them, and can if interested, it said.
She secretly made a goodbye video, stepfather says
In the moments before Jordan died, she was intubated, unable to talk.
But, unbeknownst to her family, she’d already recorded her goodbyes.
Her stepfather, Charles, was at home after she died, going through some of her things.
“She (had taken) her password off of her phone,” so it wasn’t locked, he told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota.
He found a video with a heart-wrenching message.
“She made a video saying goodbye to all us, and wished everybody the best,” he said.
“She told us bye; her sisters, (and her service dog) Angel, bye; and all her friends.
“She told them, you know, ‘See you on the other side.’”
CNN’s Stephanie Gallman contributed to this report.