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Couple married for 53 years die of coronavirus, holding hands

Curtis and Betty Tarpley were at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.
/ Source: TODAY

With new hotspots for the coronavirus popping up across the country, young people are representing a substantial portion of cases; however, individuals 65 and older are still one of the highest risk groups for severe illness from COVID-19.

One older couple in Texas, where nearly 6,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19, recently succumbed to the virus. Curtis and Betty Tarpley were admitted to Harris Methodist Hospital in Fort Worth two days apart, and on June 18, they died within an hour of each other, according to local affiliate NBC DFW. They'd been married for 53 years, and in their final moments, they were holding hands.

"With them both going at the same time, you're not seeing one of them grieve or be sad for the other one," son Tim Tarpley told NBC DFW. "I think that's very helpful."

Betty Tarpley, 80, started to show symptoms before her 79-year-old husband, Tarpley said.

"My dad would whisper 'Oh, I think she's got that COVID stuff ya know,'" he said.

Tarpley recalled taking his parents to the hospital. "It's the saddest thing ever ... You drop your parents off at the curb and their walkers, and they walk themselves into the emergency room and you don't see them again."

He was able to communicate with his mother before she died, thanks to texting and one of her nurses.

"I just said that she was a great mom, but she's gonna be a better angel," Tarpley told NBC DFW.

"Growing up, nobody wants to turn into their parents, right," he added. "Then, as we get older, we get to that age, right? They're our heroes, and you're lucky if you end up being half as good as they are."

In Texas, nearly 4,300 new cases of COVID-19 were reported on Monday. As of Tuesday morning, total cases in the state topped 153,000 with more than 2,400 deaths. Across the Houston Methodist hospital system, 60% of cases are of people under 50 years old.