Community rallies around local woman fighting COVID
By Anna Jauhola
While COVID-19 positive cases rise in Kittson County, the support is continuous for one resident who has dedicated her life to the Hallock community.
Two weeks ago, Jessie Muir was diagnosed with COVID-19 and the disease quickly took hold. She was transferred from Kittson Healthcare in Hallock to Grand Forks and in one week, she was Lifeflighted to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. Her lungs have been badly damaged by the ravenous disease, but her spirit is indomitable.
Immediately, prayers and support came from around the county and region from those who know Jessie best and those who have only had a few interactions with her. The mantra #JessieStrong has popped up all over in the form of window decorations and car decals.
Jessie came to the community with her husband, Tom Muir, a Hallock native. They have three boys – Morgan, Eli and Will – who, her friends say, are her life. Everything she does is for them. The community has also rallied around Jessie’s family.
Jessie is one example of how COVID-19 is currently affecting a younger population, proving the virus continues to have a stronghold.
Three of Jessie’s best friends visited with the Enterprise this weekend about the woman they call an inspiration.
Lane Nordin and Jessie grew up in the same area of North Dakota, they went to college together, where they also met their husbands, who were roommates – Matt Nordin and Tom.
Nicole Johnson also met Jessie in college. When Jessie married Tom, Nicole attended the wedding and met her husband, Paul.
When Lindsey Gullickson moved to Hallock, she met Jessie, began working with her at Revelation Ale Works. Jessie made her feel so welcome and they’ve been friends ever since.
“She just clicks with everybody,” Lindsey said. “With how different all three of us are, she just clicks with everyone.”
The women gave endless examples of Jessie’s selfless nature including her skills in drawing up hockey schedules, helping out at Rev Ale whether she’s scheduled or not and giving kids rides to games.
“She’ll do anything and everything so she can help somebody,” Lindsey said. “It’s not even something she thinks about. She just does it.”
Lane explained her selfless nature comes from her upbringing. Jessie’s parents had three of their own children – Jessie being the oldest – but also adopted seven more and fostered countless children.
“She was so good to them. She treated them like they were her own siblings,” Lane said. “That’s why I think she is so selfless. She was always such a good big sister when she really didn’t have to be.”
That love Jessie has shown over the years is being poured back to her and her family through messages, prayers and other support. Her friends agree that has had a most profound effect.
Daily updates on social media show Jessie’s tremendous efforts and progress to beat the disease that has damaged her lungs, but can’t damage her spirit. Tom has been with her at Mayo for several days now, which has helped her recovery.
Her sister-in-law, Sarah Muir, who is a nurse, has helped give the updates, documenting her progress.
“Jessie’s a planner to a T,” Nicole said. “So I just think what we can do to help her down there to just focus on getting better is best. Whether it’s helping with the kids, supporting Tom’s parents who are caring for the kids, raising money for expenses. Whatever we can do so she doesn’t have to worry about that, so she can just worry about getting better.”
Since April 1, Kittson Healthcare has documented more than 40 positive cases of COVID-19, many of which were in residents under the age of 50. As of Monday, April 19, the Minnesota Department of Health showed 49 positive cases in the county. While people have differing opinions about receiving the vaccines, and some are skeptical as troubles have arisen with the Johnson & Johnson shot, there is a clear message – vaccines are a big piece in the puzzle to controlling COVID.
Johnson is the director of pharmacy at Kittson Pharmacy in Hallock and simply said anyone who wants a vaccine must be proactive.
“You need to contact Kittson Memorial, get on a list or follow their Facebook page about upcoming vaccination clinics,” Johnson said. “They have to know how may people are interested before they can speak for vaccine. Another great source is Thrifty White pharmacies. You can go online and schedule appointments.”
Lane agreed and said the other health precautions – washing hands, social distancing, wearing masks – are also key to beating COVID.
“My kids have not had the stomach flu this year. I feel like teaching them to wash their hands more, having more hand washing stations, staying home when they’re sick has all helped,” Lane said. “I think for that age group, especially.”
All three women agreed masks are uncomfortable, but they have literally saved the school year and the sanity of many parents by allowing kids to attend class in person.
While this time is difficult for Jessie’s boys, Lane said all four of them are handling it as best they can and all the support is definitely helping. All three of her sons are out of quarantine this week and hopefully they will be able to visit with their mother soon over Facetime.
Lane said Jessie’s parents, Lillian and Warren Hoffman, are beyond grateful for the community’s support.
Jessie came into the Hallock community like a whirlwind, ready to be a part of it as a mother, volunteer, worker and friend. The support she is receiving now as she works to recover is a testament to the impact she has had on everyone.