The daughters of a retired Iowa school superintendent who died last November from a disease unrelated to COVID-19, strongly voiced out their grief saying their father may still be alive today had the hospital not been clogged with unvaccinated people sick with coronavirus. Dale Weeks was battling a sepsis infection unrelated to the virus but his family believes him to be a victim of the pandemic. 

One of Week’s children, Jenifer Owenson of Des Moines ranted at how her father could have survived the infection had he been admitted immediately to a larger medical center and received prompt testing and surgery. She blamed her father’s death on unvaccinated people that had occupied the bigger hospitals forcing her father to stay at Newton’s relatively small medical facility for 15 days. “It’s infuriating that people who are not vaccinated are clogging it up,” said Owenson.

She said that Newton’s hospital staff extended the best they could do for her father however the infection failed to respond to intravenous antibiotics. The family said they repeatedly requested their father to be transferred to a more advanced and larger hospital but he could not be admitted since the bigger facilities had no spare bed for their father. “We kept being told he was on a ‘list of degrees of severity,’ and his number had not come up,” Owenson added.

According to the Des Moines Register, Iowa’s hospitals have been short-staffed and jammed for months with patients suffering from COVID-19. In a report published on Wednesday by the Iowa Department of Public Health, 82% of patients hospitalized due to COVID-19 were not vaccinated, 88% of which were in intensive care. The report also showed that 30% of adults in Iowa have not received full vaccination.

Hospital officials have declined to comment on Week’s case, although they have acknowledged the high demand for patient care has suffered due to a notable reduced number of hospital staff. A spokesperson for the University of Iowa Hospitals, Laura Shoemaker, said her facility is often jammed and always close to full capacity. 

Weeks suffered through a bout with a dangerous blood-borne infection and was only able to get a bed at the University of Iowa Hospital on Nov.17, after waiting in line for 15 days. Doctors diagnosed him on Nov.25, requiring him to undergo surgery in order to clear the severe infection that has affected an artery near his stomach where he previously had a stent installed to prevent an aneurysm. 

Weeks’ prognosis was not encouraging with doctors saying this was one of the worst infections they had ever seen. He died on Nov.28 from multiple organ failure at the age of 78. 

Coronavirus COVID-19 temporary hospital - Central Park, New York A temporary hospital is built in Central Park on the East Meadow lawn on March 30, 2020 in New York City. The facility is a partnership between Mt. Sinai Hospital and Christian humanitarian aid organization Samaritan's Purse, equipped with 68 beds to treat COVID-19 patients. John Lamparski/Getty Images