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Every day, health officials, politicians and journalists pour over updated numbers meant to shed light on the COVID-19 pandemic in Utah. But each statistic represents a person — including each number in the death count. In the past nine months, hundreds of Utahns have lost their lives due to the disease. As 2020 comes to a close, KUER is remembering the lives of a few of them.

More Than A Number: Remembering Marnie Miller Blevins

An illustration of Marnie Miller Blevins.
Renee Bright
Marnie Miller Blevins was 49-years-old when she died of COVID-19 in October.

Marnie Miller Blevins was 49-years-old and a long-time nurse in Garfield County. Friends and family remember her for always joking around with those she loved.

A photo of Blevins and her brother Mitch Miller.
Courtesy of Ashlee Miller
Blevins and her brother Mitch Miller.

DeAnn Brown first met Blevins through their jobs at Garfield Memorial Hospital in Panguitch, and they grew to be good friends.

People really enjoyed her because she could just kind of get away with saying things to people that nobody else would probably dare say,” Brown, who is a nurse administrator at the hospital, said. “She had a real fun personality, and people really enjoyed her.”

Blevins worked as a nurse for 25 years, first at the hospital and then in home hospice care. Her sister-in-law Ashlee Miller said she had a connection with the older adults she cared for. Blevins was on call 24/7 and would travel across the region to tend to them.

“She was the type of nurse that you could tell really cared because she'd sit and visit with them,” Miller said. “She wouldn't just go take care and leave.”

But Blevins took care of more than her patients, she was also a mother of three.

“She loved those kids, they were her everything,” Miller said. “Everything she did was for them.”

A photo of Blevins and her three children.
Courtesy of Ashlee Miller
Blevins and her three children on a trip to Legoland in California.

Family friend AJ Johnson said going to Lake Powell with Blevins and her family in the summer was always a highlight — and she kept everyone laughing.

“She would definitely be the one who was always there to pull the pranks and make jokes and give funny gifts — some you could talk about, some you couldn't talk about,” Johnson, who works as an imaging tech at Garfield Memorial, said.

Blevins learned she had COVID-19 during a routine test for her job — she was getting one of her hospice patients admitted for long-term care. She also had diabetes and within a week of her diagnosis, she was in St. George’s ICU.

Miller said it’s difficult not knowing where Blevins contracted the virus — she had been careful to protect herself and her patients. But the family’s faith gives them hope they’ll see her again someday, Miller said.

Even though it’s difficult to miss out on sporting events or always follow public health guidelines, Johnson said he now knows the reality of losing someone.

“Even as annoyed as I am right now, to still have to wear those masks, I still know that that's what we're asked to do,” he said. “It kind of makes me wonder a little bit, if people would have done a little bit better with what they were asked to do before she passed away would it have avoided this.”

Blevins died Oct. 11 surrounded by her family.

Lexi is KUER's Southwest Bureau reporter
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