Luis Juarez, 54, of Romeoville, died March 18, just three days after his relatives were told the father of three had been infected with the novel coronavirus, his son told the Chicago Tribune.
“I feel a sense of guilt because we often try to undermine what is happening by ignoring it and thinking that it won’t happen to us,” Juarez’s 29-year-old son who asked not to be identified told the newspaper. “But it did. I still can’t believe it.”
Juarez, a diabetic who previously had pneumonia, died from respiratory failure caused by COVID-19, according to his death certificate.
His health began to deteriorate earlier this month, when he appeared to have a common cold, relatives said.
But his family didn’t believe he had been infected with COVID-19 and didn’t heed public health warnings despite the rapid spread of the virus, his son said.
“Most times, we tend to stay quiet and go along with the jokes and the memes,” Juarez’s son said. “That ignorance and silence is killing many – my dad was one of them.”
Juarez wasn’t admitted to a hospital until March 12. Doctors told him at the time he had pneumonia again and needed urgent care. Three days later, relatives called the hospital and learned he was in critical condition, his son said.
“Up until then, we didn’t know that they considered that he had the virus,” Juarez’s son told the Tribune. “We didn’t know he had been tested.”
Juarez’s three sons were later allowed to visit their father on March 18 as he was connected to ventilators. He died hours later, according to the report.
“It was very sudden,” Juarez’s 29-year-old son said while urging others not to minimize the risk of contracting the illness.
“Realize this is real and very serious,” he said.
Juarez returned from a trip to his native Mexico on Feb. 28 with no symptoms. The next day, he attended a relative’s birthday with nearly 200 family members and friends, his son said.
The family now wants to ensure he is buried in Mexico
“Like any immigrant, that was his dream,” Juarez’s son said.
But travel bans and other emergency measures due to the global pandemic may complicate those plans, the Tribune reports.