Lynn Swann thinks her father may have died from COVID-19, but there’s no way to know for sure it was the cause.

Her father, Earl Swann, had the symptoms of the disease, but it was at the beginning of the pandemic, when tests for the virus were not widely available. He was taken to Caldwell Memorial Hospital, and though he later died, Lynn Swann said she was impressed with the care he received.

The experience was difficult, and “it would have been even more awful if the medical staff had not been so incredible,” she said.

Lynn Swann was among a small crowd who gathered holding brightly colored signs outside the hospital on Wednesday to publicly thank health care workers who are caring for patients during the pandemic.

She said her parents had delayed moving to the area from Raleigh because they were concerned that the medical care here would not be as good, but they found that “the medical care here was better here than Raleigh,” she said.

Lisa Brooks, a retired flight attendant whose husband, Rocky Brooks, is a spokesman for Caldwell UNC Health Care, said she got the idea for the demonstration from seeing television footage of people in Italy and New York City clapping and cheering for health care workers from their balconies. She brought the idea to friends Becky Gibbons and Mary Ruth Horn, “and they got very excited,” she said.

Gibbons said she feels drawn to show support for hospital workers because of the care her son received several years ago.

“My son, who passed away in 2013 from a heart/lung condition, was in that hospital, and they took such good care of him. And Dr. (David) Lowry, who ... at that time was over the intensive care unit, ... he was such a wonderful, compassionate person, … and we made good friends with him through that,” she said. “I just know so many people that work there, and they’re so committed and so exhausted from all of this.”

Conla Rainey said that while the virus so far hasn’t reached her family, her pastor, Don Ingle, recently died of the virus.

“He was a precious man, and we all need a little bit of encouragement,” she said. “And I know they (health care workers) are exhausted.”

Elizabeth Norris, another demonstrator, said that she works as an administrative assistant at Helping Hands Clinic, and she has had COVID-19 herself.

“I had it for Christmas,” she said, but she has since recovered. “It took me a good 20 days.”

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.

Reporter Kara Fohner can be reached at 828-610-8721.