Four members of a Louisiana family who tested positive for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have passed away within days of each other, according to their relatives.
Antoinette Franklin, an 86-year-old matriarch described as a “lifetime resident of New Orleans” in her online obituary, died on March 23. Her death came just three days before her son Herman Franklin Jr. passed away at the age of 71.
Their family told local news station WDSU that all four had tested positive for coronavirus. While they do not know how they contracted the highly contagious respiratory virus, they said the mom and her three sons became ill around the same time.
“My uncle passed, my grandmother passed, my dad passed, then my other uncle passed its literally like 7 to 8 days apart, it’s horrific,” Anthony Franklin Jr. said.
“I want the world to know if it happened to the Franklin family, it could happen to any family,” Jacqueline Franklin told the outlet. “Let’s take this serious, my children have to bury their father, their precious grandmother and their uncles. Let’s not let this happen to another family.”
A memorial service was held for the brothers was held on Friday and for Antoinette on Saturday.
The New Orleans Coroner’s Office did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, though a spokesperson for the department confirmed to NBC News that all four family members tested positive for COVID-19.
It’s unclear if the tests were conducted before or after their deaths. Their causes of death have not been released.
Louisiana has been one of the states in the nation hardest hit by the virus. As of Tuesday, there have been at least 16,284 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 582 deaths from coronavirus-related illness, according to a New York Times database.
In the United States, there have been at least 395,090 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 12,786 deaths as of Tuesday.
The first cases of a mysterious respiratory illness — what is now known as COVID-19, a form of coronavirus — began in Wuhan, China in late December. Since then, the virus has spread worldwide, leading the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, the first since the zika epidemic in 2016.