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Rep. Madeleine Dean honors mother-in-law, who died of COVID-19

The mother-in-law of Rep. Madeleine Dean has died from COVID-19, according to the congresswoman.

The Pennsylvania Democrat shared a moving tribute on Instagram lauding the late Joan Cunnane as a fighter for human rights and women’s rights.

“Joan lived life completely and without apology — whether protesting against a war, or for civil rights and voting rights, or campaigning for Barack Obama in ’08,” Dean wrote. “My husband, P.J. Cunnane, jokes that she loved President Obama as much as her own sons.”

Dean expressed regret over not being at her mother-in-law’s side in her final days. Instead, she had to look in “through windows and on Zoom calls,” she wrote.

A sad reality of the pandemic is that, because of quarantining and social distancing, some family members have not been able to join their loved ones as they are dying, making the losses even more gut-wrenching.

As Congress continues to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, more lawmakers are coming forward with stories about how the virus is affecting their own families.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren lost her oldest brother, Donald Reed Herring, to the disease in April. That same week, Rep. Maxine Waters said that her sister had been hospitalized. “I’m going to take a moment to dedicate this legislation to my dear sister who is dying in a hospital in St. Louis, Missouri right now, infected by the coronavirus,” Waters said on the House floor, ahead of a vote on a $484 billion aid package.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s husband, John Besser, battled COVID-19 in March but has since recovered. “I love my husband so very much and not being able to be there at the hospital by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease,” the Democrat from Minnesota said in a statement at the time.

Rep. Jahana Hayes’ husband, a first responder, also tested positive for the coronavirus, the Connecticut Democrat said in a statement last week.

Dean thanked the staff at her mother-in-law’s nursing home for comforting her during her illness. before adding, “we will miss her passion, quick wit, linguine and clams — and her love and dedication to human rights and women’s rights.”

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