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'COVID shattered my family': North Texans navigating through life without their loved ones after coronavirus-related deaths

As the number of COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. surpasses 500,000, two North Texas families remind you there are faces and families behind these numbers.

DALLAS — It is easy to get lost in the numbers as it relates to coronavirus-related deaths. This week, the country reached a milestone that no one is celebrating: 500,000 COVID-19 deaths since the pandemic started.

"COVID shattered my family," said Kimberly Yarbough.

Two North Texas deaths recorded last week have had an incredible impact on their families and communities: Bukri Yirgu and Courtney Yarbough. 

Yirgu is of Ethiopian descent and is known internationally as an entrepreneur and trailblazer. Daniel, her husband of 35 years, said the pair was admitted to the hospital together. He never thought that moment at Methodist Richardson would be their last real goodbye. 

"We were admitted together...the same day. I got out early and she stayed," said Daniel Kassahun.

Kim Yarbough is struggling with the death of her husband of 15 years. Courtney Yarbough was an educator at Leadership Prep in Frisco. He worked with children with special needs. The couple has four children of their own, who are struggling to cope with the news.

"I think I'm feeling numb, and then I'm crying uncontrollably," said Kim Yarbough. 

RELATED: COVID-19 updates: Teacher at Dallas County school died due to coronavirus, officials said

Nightly memorial prayers over Zoom for Bukri had hundreds of people in attendance each night. Her connection to her community is very evident. 

The family told WFAA she ran a well-known catering business for almost three decades. And she and work partner Yesigat Kebede were always beating the drum on financial literacy for the community. 

"She was the backbone of the Ethiopian community," said Bukri's daughter Mefti Daniel.

Both families now on a mission. 

The Daniels are starting a foundation in Yirgu's honor, and Kim Yarbough will continue to educate others about the need to vaccinate and take this virus seriously.  

"[If not] then his life was in vain. I'm not going to let that happen." said Kim Yarbough.

Yirgu's funeral was on Tuesday and Courtney Yarbough's funeral is scheduled for Saturday.

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