North Georgia elementary school teacher Heidi Hammond has died of COVID-19 less than one month after her husband, a middle school football coach in Dalton, Georgia, died of the virus.
Hammond, 44, died Friday at AdventHealth Gordon, where she had been hospitalized for more than a month. Prior to her death, Hammond taught first grade at Chatsworth Elementary School in Murray County, Georgia. She had worked in the Murray County School system for more than 20 years.
Hammond's husband, Sean Hammond, died as a result of COVID-19 on Aug. 30. He was entering his first year at Hammond Creek Middle School as a special education teacher and football coach.
The Hammonds were parents to a 12-year-old son, Marshall. In lieu of flowers, the Hammond family has asked that donations be made to his college fund at First National Community Bank, 701 N. 3rd Ave., Chatsworth.
In a post on Facebook on Saturday, officials with Chatsworth Elementary School announced Heidi Hammond's death and urged the community to remember her family and offer support to her son.
"Chatsworth Elementary lost a dear friend and valued teacher Friday with the passing of Mrs. Heidi Hammond," the post said. "Our hearts are breaking for this loss and for Heidi's family and son, Marshall. Heidi will be greatly missed in the CES family. Please remember her family and Marshall in your prayers as they face the days ahead."
Tammy Wimberley and Tara McCamy, both teachers at Chatsworth Elementary, said they were "heartbroken" for Marshall and that Hammond would be missed by all.
"Praying for comfort in the days, weeks and months ahead," Wimberley said.
Leslie Perez, a former student of Hammond's, also said she would be missed in a comment on the school's Facebook post.
"My heart is so sad," Perez said. "She was such a great teacher to me. She was my first-grade teacher at Northwest in 2002."
Sean Hammond tested positive for COVID-19 three days into pre-planning for the school year and was one of 16 Dalton Public Schools staff members who tested positive in the week following a back-to-school gathering for teachers on Aug. 5.
A group of parents filed a complaint early in the school year about what they saw as lax attitudes and poor enforcement around masks in schools.
At a Georgia Department of Public Health board meeting on Sept. 14, state epidemiologist Dr. Cherie Drenzek said that about 60% of all COVID-19 outbreaks in Georgia now take place in K-12 schools. Drenzek also said that cases among school-age children had increased dramatically in comparison to earlier stages of the pandemic in recent weeks, noting that four Georgia children died in August after contracting the virus.
That was more than at any other point during the pandemic.
As of Monday, 47% of Georgians were fully vaccinated. The percentage of fully vaccinated residents is lower in Whitfield and Murray counties, where the Hammonds worked, with just 39% and and 33% of all residents receiving two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in each county, respectively.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at email@example.com or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.