Vaccinated Couple with Underlying Health Issues Die of COVID Minutes Apart While Holding Hands

"They did everything right," says Cal and Linda Dunham's daughter, who is encouraging others to take COVID-19 seriously

Cal and Linda Dunham
Cal and Linda Dunham. Photo: Facebook

Michigan couple Cal and Linda Dunham were together until the very end, when they lost their lives due to COVID-19.

The Grand Rapids husband and wife, who both had undisclosed pre-existing conditions, had been vaccinated for months when they fell ill during a family camping trip earlier this month, daughter Sarah Dunham told Fox17.

"[My dad] called me before our family camping trip and said he wasn't feeling good but he thinks it's just like sinus [issues], and [Linda] caught it and she's like, 'He gave me his cold,' " Sarah told the outlet. "The third day they woke me up and said, 'We've got to go because we don't feel well.' "

Days later, both Cal and Linda were on ventilators at the hospital, and on Sunday, the pair died within a minute of each other, the outlet reported.

"They gained their angel wings one minute apart from each other. Cal passing at 11:07am and Linda at 11:08am," according to a GoFundMe created to help cover funeral arrangements.

In an even deeper testament to their love, the couple died holding hands in their respective hospital beds, Sarah told Fox17.

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Cal shared his vaccination status by changing his Facebook photo on May 15, displaying an image of the couple with a Facebook graphic reading, "I Got My COVID-19 Vaccine — We Can Do This."

"As this passing was unexpected, the immediate family has had less than a month to wrap their hearts and finances around this significant loss," reads a message on the GoFundMe page, which has raised over $1,000 as of Tuesday afternoon.

"Together with their children, honorary children, family and friends, we hope to ease the burden that goes into the final arrangements of two of the most beautiful people," the message continued.

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Although it was a small comfort to know they passed away together, Sarah said she's "angry" some people still aren't taking COVID-19 seriously.

"So many people are like, 'If I catch COVID, I catch COVID, that's what it is.' No, it's not," she told the outlet. "It could be any person; it could be anybody. They did everything right, they did everything to protocol the way it should be done."

Breakthrough cases — COVID-19 infections that occur in people who have been fully vaccinated against the virus — are rare, but possible and expected, as the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing infections. Still, vaccinated people who test positive will likely be asymptomatic or experience a far milder illness than if they were not vaccinated. The majority of deaths from COVID-19 — around 98 to 99% — are in unvaccinated people.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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