Even with the novel coronavirus impacting the globe, Leilani Jordan kept her focus on one thing — helping seniors in need. She did so by working fervently at a Giant Food store in Largo, Maryland.
That all came to an end on April 1 after Jordan, 27, contracted the virus herself and died two weeks after what became her March 16 final shift at the store. Her final paycheck came to $20.64, according to her family.
“Twenty dollars and sixty four cents. My baby’s gone because of $20.64,” her mother, Zenobi Shepherd, told MSNBC. “You know what using the proper PPE could have done for my baby?”
Jordan had been working as part of the disability program at the Giant Food store for the past six years. She battled with cerebral palsy and had cognitive disabilities, her mother said.
Shepherd believed her daughter did not fully understand the dangers that the virus posed and only wanted to fulfill her duties as a grocery clerk. But her family feels the store had not been taking the right measures to ensure her safety.
According to Jordan’s family, the Campus Way food store, located a few miles east of Washington, had been short-staffed and lacked personal protective equipment.
Giant spokeswoman Felismina Andrade told WUSA 9 that the company had been undergoing additional cleaning and disinfecting measures since Jordan’s death. Andrade offered her condolences to the family.
“We are saddened to confirm that a store associate from our Campus Way South location in Largo passed away from COVID-19,” she told the CBS affiliate. “We were informed of her passing on Thursday morning by her family. We can only imagine the heartache they are experiencing and have offered our support during this difficult time.”
Jordan spent the final days of her life on a ventilator, which made her unable to talk. Her family later discovered a video on which Jordan said her final farewell.
The 27-year-old’s story has touched the lives of many — including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently became the last candidate to drop out of the Democratic presidential race, essentially ceding the nomination to former Vice President Joe Biden.
“Leilani Jordan said she wasn’t given gloves or hand sanitizer, ” Sanders tweeted Tuesday. “Now this grocery worker is dead at 27 over a $20.64 paycheck. Is this what America is about? Or will we fight for protective gear, hazard pay, and paid sick leave for all frontline workers?”
“Our hearts go out to the family of Leilani Jordan,” the Special Needs Special People agency tweeted. “Ms. Jordan was a clerk with CP at a grocery store in Maryland who was committed to helping the elderly with their needs, despite knowing she was at risk,” the agency continued.
“Before passing, she left a heartfelt message to her family. Rest in peace.”
“Leilani Jordan is a hero,” tweeted Ricardo Luke. “May her soul rest in peace. Praying for family and friends.”
See more in the video below.