Your Voice: Pandemic takes away Sumter woman's job, loved ones


We've been asking our Sumter Item community to share their stories surrounding COVID-19 and the pandemic's impact on you, your family and friends, work, etc. We want to tell the stories of the people in our community, putting names and people to statistics and trend articles.

To share your story and read other submissions, go to or email if you want us to send you a questionnaire. You can also call (803) 774-1235 and leave a voice message either detailing your story or a callback number.

* Editor's note: While we read through and edit these reader submissions to ensure they adhere to our publishing policy, we cannot fact-check all of these personal experiences. The Sumter Item does not endorse opinions that may appear in Your Voice.

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What is your name? Azilee Billy

What county do you live in? Sumter

How old are you? 55

Are you a health care worker or other essential employee (grocery store, pharmacy, etc.)? Tell us about your experience.

Yes. Before COVID hit, I was a federal emergency manager. I had not been deployed to a disaster for over a year due to some underlying conditions that needed attention. When COVID-19 hit, my department did random cutbacks due to travel restrictions, etc. For the past year, I had been working contract jobs and focusing on my personal business. When COVID-19 hit, they came to a halt. My underlying conditions have been agitated and have landed me in the ER. I am quarantined 95% of my time. When I am ill, I do home remedies to prevent hospital visits. When you are ill, doctors will direct you to a hospital to avoid infection of others. I have not received any stimulus assistance since COVID-19 arrived. I am currently a part-time essential worker when health permits.

I have lost many relatives and friends to this pandemic. Some from the COVID and some from underlying conditions. Each day feels like a guessing game, but I still know that I am blessed and God ain't through with me yet. I send love and prayers for everyone.

Tell your loved ones that you love them dearly as often as possible. Check on your neighbors because all of us are not going to make it to the other side of COVID-19. Mask up, stay safe, rejoice each day and VOTE like your life depends on it! Because it does.

Do you know someone who is sick or has died who you want to honor? Tell us about them.

I know many and wish to honor them all and send prayers to those who are currently battling. I just lost a 6-year-old grand-niece two days ago. My heart is so heavy.

Have you lost your job? Tell us about how that has impacted you.

My regular job was lost March 28. I am accustomed to traveling to disasters to help others. This pandemic has grounded me, and I cannot fix this disaster that we now face. It bothers me daily. This disaster can only be fixed by God.

Are you working from home, self-isolating or quarantining? What changes have you made? How are you adjusting?

I am working in various areas. I must travel locally, which puts me at risk because of underlying conditions, but the stimulus package didn't include everyone as promised.

Are you a parent? Tell us about the changes you and your family have made.

I am a mother of four and have 11 grands. I can't visit any of them.

What's something positive you've taken from this situation? A silver lining?

What doesn't kill you definitely makes you stronger. Mine eyes can still see the Glory. Thank you Jesus!