The family of the first man to officially die of coronavirus in Lauderdale County is speaking out about how they've been treated since his death.
Albert Johnson Trousdale, known as Johnson, Died from the virus back in march. His family told us he had some health complications and had just had hip replacement surgery when he got the virus.
He passed away at Huntsville Hospital. His family couldn't be by his side because of the virus.
WAAY 31 spoke with Matthew Trousdale, Johnson's son, and Matthew's wife, Nicole. Matthew and Nicole said the pain of losing Johnson has been immeasurable for the whole family, but what makes it worse are all the comments people make to them about the virus being a hoax or throwing out consipracy theories.
"For some reason this pandemic, and the way the virus is, people kind of ignore there are real people behind this situation," said Matthew Trousdale.
Matthew Trousdale said he never thought he'd have to defend his dad's death certificate.
"I'll have people come up to me and say, I'm sorry about your dad but you know if the Democrats would do this or if the Republicans would do that or it's all a hoax or overblown. No matter what they say I still have a tombstone to look at. It's real hard to convince me it's a hoax, or anything else especially when I seen all the symptoms he went through," said Matthew Trousdale.
Matthew said people come up to his family and give their political opinions of how his dad died and the petty arguments over masks. Matthew said normally when you lose someone close people rally around you, but this virus has divided people instead.
"If we had the mindset that happened with 9/11 instead of fighting over masks, we'd be knocking each other down to figure out how to make more masks," said Matthew Trousdale.
To this family this isn't a hoax. They lost their father and grandfather. Nancy Trousdale lost her husband of 63 years. This nation and the state lost a veteran who served in the Army and Alabama National Guard for 21 years. Johnson was still serving his community and church until he started to run a high fever and the virus took him on March 26.
"It's an empty spot you know. You're used to every night making that phone call before supper or after supper and he's not there to make that phone call to," said Nicole Trousdale, Johnson's daughter-in-law.
In Alabama, more than 2,100 people have died of the virus. Matthew Trousdale said he knows his family members aren't the only ones going through this emotional toll when people question him on how his dad died or claim it's a hoax.
"Treat people like you'd want to be treated. If your mother, daddy, brother, or sister died do you want to hear someone's political views on how they died? You probably don't. To me, condolences and a good story about dad. Hey, that's what I need, that's what mom needs," said Matthew Trousdale.
Matthew Trousdale and his family said they hope people don't get mad at them for speaking up, and said people just need to show a little more empathy. He said for every hurtful comment they've heard there are still great people who have helped them during this time.
He said many of the people who make the comments are good people, too. He knows he could call them if he ran out of gas.
The Trousdale family just wants people to understand what they are going through and how to talk with families who have lost loved ones to the virus.