'We are terrified'
Westmoreland rattled after three gas station owners die from COVID-19 in a weekTuesday, August 24, 2021
BY ANTHONY LEWIS
LITTLE LONDON, Westmoreland — “We are very terrified. We are very nervous. We are very, very concerned,” said president of the Negril Chamber of Commerce Richard Wallace yesterday.
He was reacting to the deaths of three gas station owners in the parish who succumbed to COVID-19 within the last week. According to the latest data from the health ministry, between August 20 and 21, there were 109 cases and four COVID-19-related deaths in Westmoreland, all women between 68 and 83 years old.
The deaths that have most rattled the Chamber are those of people they have known for years.
A week ago Marcia Bacchas, the co-owner and operator of Mic Mar Traders, which includes a service station in Little London, lost her life to the deadly virus. Her husband Miike died three days ago. Then yesterday morning, Lecia Samuels, owner of Rubis Service stations in Savanna-la-Mar and Negril, died.
“To see so much sickness and death and to see our health system in the way that it is, it is very terrifying,” said Wallace, who knew Samuels well and also lost an in-law to COVID-19 during the last week.
“We have to be strong. We have to be smart and we have to be wise at this time and do what is necessary to get through this,” he urged. “What we need is the cooperation of everyone. Everyone out there needs to cooperate and let us work as a community to get rid of this. If some are doing what they are supposed to be doing and others are not, it is making it harder for everyone.”
He is urging everyone to get vaccinated. So, too, is president of the Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and Industry Moses Chybar, who has also been left reeling from the death of his close friends Marcia and Miike Bacchas. He expressed concern that the parish has been losing prominent business people who had been contributing to its development.
“When we see some of the major business people who provide employment and support in many community activities, good corporate citizens going out like that, it makes us even sadder,” Chybar said, noting that the couple were good people who had left behind children.
There were rumours circulating on social media that the couple's son Marco had attended the controversial staging of Dream Weekend in Negril two weeks ago and had contracted the virus. The young man, in a sharply worded reply to the post, said he had been out of the country for the last six months. “Imagine waking up to see this with all that's happening. I'm trying really hard to keep my cool cause that's what my parents would have wanted. So once again I'm using this platform to ask persons that don't know things to shut up and stop with all these false news,” he said.