As far as his family knows, Darius Settles had no health problems. But five days after he tested positive for COVID-19, the son of Pastor David Settles of The Worship Center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, died at the age of 30 on July 4.
"The virus is real," Pastor Settles, who is now getting ready to bury his son on Saturday, told The Daily News Journal. "It’s not a hoax, and it’s not a joke. It’s real. Even with his age, I was convinced he’ll be fine. He’s young. He can fight it off. But that was not the case."
Darius’ sister, Deja Settles, told NBC affiliate News4 that when she learned her brother was diagnosed with the virus, she thought he would recover quickly too.
“I wasn’t prepared for this. It wasn’t a possibility in my mind. I thought, he [was] going to be fine,” she said.
Darius Settles lived in Nashville's Antioch community, the newspaper reported. He is among the 685 people to have died in the state after contracting coronavirus as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.
The state has reported 55,986 total cases of coronavirus with 32,736 recovered cases and 3,023 patients hospitalized.
Darius Settles, who was married and the father of a young son, is the youngest person to die of COVID-19 in Nashville so far, according to News4.
Pastor Settles, who spent Tuesday choosing suits for his son’s funeral, recalled how scared his son was when his condition worsened during his quarantine period. Settles said that his son begged him and his wife for prayer.
“He was scared,” David Settles remembered. “He told my wife he was scared. He asked, ‘Please mama, pray for me.’”
The pastor told The Daily News Journal that one of the things that complicated his son’s medical care was that he didn’t have health insurance. The pastor said that the lack of health insurance is why his son delayed seeing a doctor even though he encouraged him to do so.
"He didn't have health insurance," David Settles said. "He put it off."
The pastor explained that last Wednesday, his son went to TriStar Southern Hills Medical Center and came home with an inhaler and antibiotics to treat pneumonia.
When his son called him last Friday, the pastor said, he was desperate.
“He said, ‘Dad, I need you to pray for me,’” the pastor explained. “His breath was very shallow. I said, ‘I always pray for you.’ And he said ‘No, I need you to get the oil and come pray for me.’”
He got anointed oil from his church and when he arrived at his son’s home, his son had heavy congestion. When Darius Settles stopped breathing at home on Saturday, he was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead.
David Settles said that his son told him before he died that he didn’t know how he contracted the virus. The pastor is now urging people to wear a mask to protect others and themselves.
”I keep hearing people say, ‘I don’t need a mask, I don’t need a mask.’ But you don’t know who you’re affecting,” Settles said. “Somebody passed it to my son. Somebody gave it to my son. And he could have been alive today if someone had just worn their mask.”
A GoFundMe online fundraiser has been established to help the family raise money for a memorial service. As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly $16,000 has been raised.
According to the fundraiser, Darius Settles began his own business at the age of 25 selling luxury, custom-fit suits.
“He really knew how to make people feel and look good,” the fundraising webpage reads. “We would love to give Darius the proper send-off and need your help to do so.”