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'Maybe we waited too long' | Houston pastor died within days of COVID-19 diagnosis, family says

For nearly 40 years, Pastor Gibbs ministered to the faithful at a progressive Christian church.

HOUSTON — While the coronavirus pandemic continues to take more lives in the Houston area, the reported number of confirmed deaths are still significantly delayed.

In fact, health experts believe the true number of fatalities to be much higher.

One of them happened almost 10 days ago.

Houston lost a beloved pastor to the disease.

Reverend Vickey Gibbs was a devoted leader, mother and wife.

Friends and family members said she was serious about social distancing and wearing a mask but nonetheless died only days after her positive COVID-19 test result was returned.

For nearly 40 years, Pastor Gibbs ministered to the faithful at a progressive Christian church in Houston Heights.

The congregation includes many of those who were marginalized, felt left out or couldn't find another house of worship willing to accept them because they were different.

They found a home at Resurrection Metropolitan Community Church, and they found the counsel of Reverend Vickey.

"She had a way of being there for people," Gibb's wife Cassandra White said. "She had a way of speaking to people in their own language.”

Pastor Gibbs felt something in her throat last month.

She didn’t think it was serious. Probably the Saharan dust, she thought.

Gibbs went ahead and got tested, though.

Senior pastor Troy Tresh said she looked fine during a Zoom meeting on Monday of the following week, but by Wednesday’s call, she looked different.

"It changed," Tresh said. "She looked much weaker and could only be on the meeting for about 30 minutes and wanted to take a nap. That afternoon, they took her to the emergency room. Immediately they diagnosed her COVID and pneumonia and they put her on a ventilator.”

Gibbs was gone by Friday.

Those who knew her say the pastor did everything right: she socially distanced, washed her hands and wore a mask.

“I feel that maybe we waited too long to go to the hospital," White said.

In retrospect, White says the disease progressed much faster than they thought.

There is one message she would like for people to hear.

“If you can’t breathe and you’re unable to take steps like you might normally do, the minute it starts, that’s the time to go to the hospital and let them help you," White said.