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Sister of Illinois’ first coronavirus victim also dies from virus, officials say

Chicago Tribune logo Chicago Tribune 5 days ago By Christy Gutowski and Madeline Buckley, Chicago Tribune

Nine days after a retired nurse from Chicago’s South Side became the first person in Illinois to die from a COVID-19 infection, another member of the woman’s family also succumbed to the deadly disease, the Tribune learned Thursday.

Wanda Bailey, 63, of Crete, died early Wednesday at a hospital in south suburban Olympia Fields, according to officials from the Cook County medical examiner’s office.

Authorities said Bailey died of pneumonia due to a COVID-19 infection with heart disease, hypertension and lung disease listed as contributing factors. Her death was ruled natural, according to the medical examiner’s office.

Bailey, one of nine siblings in a tight-knit family, is an older sister of Patricia Frieson, public records showed. A Waukegan funeral home confirmed it is handling arrangements for both sisters.

Frieson, 61, died March 16 after testing positive for the new coronavirus. She was the state’s first fatal case, according to public health officials.

Members of the family could not be immediately reached late Thursday.

In earlier interviews, a brother confirmed last week he had a second sister in the hospital for respiratory issues. He did not identify which sister but said the family was “hopeful” she’d pull through because she was in better overall health than the sibling who had died.

The brother, Richard Frieson, of Minneapolis, said it is unclear to the family how Patricia Frieson became infected, noting she didn’t get out much because of her health problems. The sisters did, though, attend church together, according to social media posts.

“We’re all very close,” he said last week, noting his sisters saw each other frequently.

He said Patricia Frieson had attended a funeral weeks earlier, as well.

Family members are "self-quarantining under the assumption they would be positive,” the brother said last week.

On Thursday, authorities announced the statewide total has risen to 2,538 positive cases and 26 deaths.

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