Juan Jose Martinez took on a huge responsibility at the age of 19 – caring for four of his younger siblings, ages 7 to 15, after his 43-year-old mother died of a coronavirus in August.
The teenager from Palmdale, California, cooks, cleans and helps his siblings with their online education, he said. But this is not even the hardest part.
“It’s still hard for them, but I’m trying to comfort them in the best way possible,” Martinez said of his grieving siblings, who he said needed emotional support. “Sometimes we’ll cry together.”
Martinez, along with his mother Brenda Martinez and his five siblings, all tested positive for coronavirus in early August, a shock to the family.
“She was always careful. She usually stayed home and took extra precautions, “Martinez said of her diabetic mother. “She would always wear a mask when she came out. It would always disinfect. ”
Martinez said he had taken similar precautions and his five siblings stayed home for virtual training.
The siblings – one of whom is two years old and now lives with a paternal father – were mostly asymptomatic. But Juan and his mother were not so happy. They experienced many of the symptoms often associated with coronavirus, such as cough, fever and chills, while isolating themselves at their home in Palmdale, about 60 miles north of Los Angeles.
A few days after they were isolated, Brenda’s mild symptoms worsened as she began to have difficulty breathing. She was short of breath, Martinez said, and was rushed to Palmdale Regional Medical Center, where she later failed to respond and put on a ventilator. Meanwhile, Juan continued to struggle with his own illness while also working full time, caring for his five siblings suddenly without their mother.
Without their father being able to help, the bills piled up for the family and Brenda’s daughter-in-law, Crystal Acosta Torres, organized an online fundraising campaign for the family’s basic expenses, NBC Los Angeles reported at the time.
“My nephew is grateful because it’s a lot while he makes these decisions for his mother and takes care of his siblings while she continues to fight for her life,” Acosta Torres told City News Service of the recruitment campaign. of funds, which raised thousands of donations. “It’s hard for the family and we want to thank everyone for helping where they can.”
But after a week-and-a-half stay in hospital, Brenda will succumb to the virus that struck her household just two weeks earlier, leaving behind six children, the eldest of whom watched the video conference while doctors treated her. DAC before crossing.
Martinez, who said he eventually developed pneumonia because of the virus, is now speaking out and urging others to take the coronavirus seriously. This is one of the ways he hopes to keep his mother’s memory alive.
“This is serious. It took our mother away and I would hate something like that to happen to someone else, ”Martinez said.
Martinez added that it upsets him to see people who do not listen to coronavirus safety regulations such as wearing masks and social distancing. He said this type of behavior is particularly dangerous because people like his mother, who had a basic health condition, are at greater risk of serious complications if they become infected with the virus.
“There are times when I go out to the store and see a few people who don’t wear their masks,” he said.
In July, California became the state with the most confirmed cases of coronavirus, ahead of New York. August will then become the deadliest month in California during the pandemic, with 3,745 deaths reported, an 18 percent increase from July, according to an analysis by the Los Angeles Times.
In an interview with NBC in Los Angeles on October 28, Martinez reiterated his advice to people who still believe that the coronavirus is a scam.
“I just hope people take their precautions,” he warned. “This is not a joke.”
As coronavirus cases increase across the country and infections spread at the fastest rate since the pandemic began, Martinez hopes people will learn from his family’s history.
As for the other way Martinez said he kept his mother’s memory alive: six necklaces with his mother’s ashes in them. One for each of Brenda’s children, a sign that her eldest hopes his siblings, especially the younger ones, can remember.
“I just plan to move forward with them in the best way I can to ensure the best way I can,” he said.
On Wednesday, Martinez launched an additional online fundraising campaign for his family after the previous one, started by his mother’s daughter-in-law in August, raised more than $ 75,000.
Martines wrote on the website of the new fundraising campaign: “I promised her [mother] that I will keep my brothers and sisters together and take care of them. “