Father of 5 dies from coronavirus on twin daughters' 10th birthday, wife says

On the day a New York family was to be celebrating their twins’ 10th birthday, they lost their father to the novel coronavirus.

Last Sunday, Melody Aravena received the devastating call from an Orange County hospital, informing her of husband Rolando Aravena’s tragic death, the Time Herald-Record reports.

He was 44.

“We’re broken and hurting,” she told the publication. “We don’t know how to survive without him. He was the rock of our family.”


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“The government and healthcare system failed us. They waited too long (to take actions),” she said. “On his last day, the hospital still told us to stay home and self-quarantine, but he was dying.”

Rolando started showing COVID-19 symptoms, like chills and fever, on March 19. A week earlier, he’d been sent to work at a Manhattan hospital as a field technician for Verizon.

Melody told the publication that his workplace didn’t provide him with any gear to protect him from contracting the virus.

They called the coronavirus hotline in the city right away and waited five hours on the phone before scheduling a test on March 26, KCTV News reports, but his condition worsened as they waited for the day to come.

“The doctors sent him away three times,” she claimed on Instagram, per the broadcast station. “Even with an oxygen level of 89.”

They went home with an inhaler and instruction to self-quarantine, only to find themselves back in hospital on March 29 when he began having trouble breathing.

She was told she couldn’t stay at the hospital, and went home to blow out her daughter’s birthday candles.

He died hours later. Two days later, she received her husband’s positive coronavirus test results.


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The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines state that anyone with an oxygen level of 94 per cent or below must be hospitalized.

The Time Herald-Record says his level was 90 per cent before he was given an oxygen pump.

A GoFundMe was launched on Friday in support of the Aravena family, and has raised more than US$73,000 by Monday.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.

meaghan.wray@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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