Hammonds returned to the hospital later in March and was diagnosed with COVID-19 around March 27, said longtime friend Rose Dawson, 54. Oxygen treatments initially helped him feel better, but he died just days after his diagnosis. He left behind a son and daughter.
His death doesn't feel real for co-worker Olivia Tripp, who called Hammonds her "big brother." They hired in at the same time 24 years ago and were always together. They used to split food because they felt they were eating too much on the job.
Now, she's trying to get on the best she can without him. Tripp, 51, has asthma and said it's "crazy" that she didn't get COVID-19 being around Hammonds so much.
She keeps her distance at work, while wearing a mask and gloves, and says she feels safe there. But she isn't sure the mask is healthy for her, with her condition.
She'll miss her friend, who loved life and was always smiling and laughing.
"We grew in there; we got old," Tripp said. "We started in there young, skinny. We gained weight, hair gray. We started off as the young kids; now the younger kids call us uncle and auntie."
Hammonds was the life of the party, Dawson said. He knew all of the latest dances and sported stylish blazers. He loved being around his friends and family.
"He went to work, no matter how late we hung out, or whatever was going on. He was going to work," Dawson said. "He had a great passion for his job."