Glendale woman shocked by husband’s death certificate listing COVID-19

Jul 24, 2020, 4:45 AM | Updated: 7:03 am

(Photo courtesy of Kathy Nester)...

(Photo courtesy of Kathy Nester)

(Photo courtesy of Kathy Nester)

PHOENIX — When Kathy Nester of Glendale received her late husband’s death certificate, she found something completely unexpected.

It listed COVID-19 as one of the causes of death.

The Maricopa County Medical Examiner’s Office made that determination, so she called them right away.

“They said that they tested him,” Nester told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

She then asked if the they tested him when he was dead.

“They [said they] did and that they had a right to test him, and I didn’t have to give permission for them to test him,” she said.

Nester’s husband, Donald Glen Nester, Jr., 66, died on June 28. He was found unconscious in his home and rushed to the hospital, where doctors told his family he died of acute respiratory illness, which also appears on his death certificate.

A few days before, he had been experiencing fatigue and struggled to walk. He and his family thought it was from a recent back surgery.

Nester noted her husband was tested for COVID-19 prior to his back surgery and that the test results came back negative. She told that to the Medical Examiner’s Office when they called her shortly after her husband died.

“So when I got the death certificate, I was shocked to see COVID-19 on it,” she said.

In a statement sent to KTAR News 92.3 FM, the Medical Examiner’s Office said it’s not required to get family consent to perform its mandated duties, including testing for COVID-19 post mortem.

“Doing so would limit its ability to protect the public-at-large should families object to an investigation,” the statement reads.

The office also said it can test for COVID-19 because state law allows it to test for “a previously unreported or undiagnosed disease that constitutes a threat to public safety.” In addition, it decides when to test for COVID-19 based on “symptoms at the time of death and medical history.”

Still, Nester said she’s disappointed to see COVID-19 listed as a cause of death on her husband’s death certificate.

“I’m pretty disappointed, I really am,” she said. “I don’t know if I can fight it. I don’t know what I can do, but I’m not happy. I’m not happy that’s on there.”

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Glendale woman shocked by husband’s death certificate listing COVID-19