Woman, 86, and three of her sons die after contracting coronavirus

An 86-year-old Louisiana woman and three of her sons who all tested positive for the coronavirus have died, relatives and the coroner's office say.

The mother, Antoinette Franklin, and her sons were African American, and their deaths come with the announcement that blacks account for 70.5 percent of fatalities from coronavirus in Louisiana, although they make up only about a third of the population.

Louisiana is a hot spot for the pandemic, with 14,867 coronavirus cases and 512 deaths.

Antoinette Franklin, a lifelong New Orleans resident, died March 23.

Her sons, Herman Franklin Jr., 71, Anthony Franklin Sr., 58 and Timothy Franklin, 61, died between March 20 and 30, according to their obituaries.

The brothers and their mother all tested positive for coronavirus, Jason Melancon, a spokesman for the New Orleans Coroner's Office, told NBC News on Tuesday. It is unclear if the tests were conducted before or after they died. Melancon said their causes of death are as yet undetermined.

Antoinette Franklin (via WDSU)
Antoinette Franklin (via WDSU)

Family members told NBC affiliate WDSU in New Orleans all four became ill around the same time.

"My uncle passed, my grandmother passed, my dad passed, then my other uncle passed," Anthony Franklin said. "It's literally like seven to eight days apart. It's horrific."

It is unclear how they contracted the virus. The Louisiana Department of Health said it could not comment about individual cases.

"I want the world to know if it happened to the Franklin family it could happen to any family," Jacqueline Franklin, who had two children with Anthony Franklin Sr., told WDSU. "Let’s take this serious. My children have to bury their father, their precious grandmother and their uncles."

Herman Franklin, a father of eight, died on March 20. He had just moved back to New Orleans to be closer to family, according to WDSU. Anthony Franklin Sr. passed away on March 26. He is survived by his two children, their mother and a fiancée. Timothy Franklin died early on March 30.

Anthony and Jacqueline Franklin could not immediately be reached Tuesday at numbers listed for them.

Gov. John Bel Edwards said Monday at a news conference that he is looking for ways for his administration to address racial disparities related to rates of sickness and death.

"We're going to try to figure out what that is attributable to and what we can do about that as quickly as possible," he said.