All 10 family members in this house got COVID-19. Their patriarch didn’t survive
The Ramirez family never thought the coronavirus would get them.
They took every precaution, staying cooped up in their Azusa home since the stay-at-home order in March, the family said. Only the family’s father and eldest son went out for grocery runs, fully protected with masks and gloves.
The virus still found its way into the home. Over the course of days, each member of the 10-person household became infected. Three were hospitalized.
The family’s patriarch, Guillermo Ramirez, would not survive the battle with COVID-19. He died April 28 at 47. His family said he had no underlying conditions that would have put him at special risk.
Now the family is struggling with the loss of their primary provider, who had devoted his life to bettering theirs.
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“It’s traumatizing,” said Ramirez’s daughter Alexia, 26, who does not live with her family. “It’s been a week and I still haven’t been able to hug my family.”
The attack on the family began in mid-April, when Ramirez’s wife, Luciana, came down with a headache and fever.
One by one, the adults in the home all began experiencing symptoms: Ramirez; his mother, Linda Hernandez, 72; his sons Guillermo Ramirez Jr., 25, and Themo, 24; and his daughter Beatrize, 21.
They quarantined themselves in their bedrooms, leaving the living room to the kids, who did not have any symptoms.
Ramirez’s youngest son, 12-year-old David, was responsible for watching over the grandchildren, ages 3, 2 and 8 months.
After they were tested at a drive-through site, results for all members of the family, including the asymptomatic children, came back positive for COVID-19.
A 32-year-old New Jersey man was hospitalized with COVID-19. His Twitter video, viewed half a million times, caused concern among younger people.
Ramirez seemed to have a milder case than the rest of his family members. They were bedridden, extremely fatigued and unable to eat.
“I kept asking my dad to let me go and take care of them,” Alexia Ramirez said. “He told me no, he didn’t want me to get sick.”
Alexia Ramirez would buy groceries and make meals for her family, wiping everything down before dropping it off at their doorstep.
On April 24, Guillermo Ramirez Jr. was hospitalized with breathing difficulties. In the next two days, his father and grandmother followed.
A few days later, doctors called Luciana Ramirez to let her know her husband’s condition had worsened and he would need to be intubated.
Alexia Ramirez rushed her mother, sitting in the back seat and wearing a face shield and gloves, to the hospital with hopes of seeing him before that happened. By the time they got there, doctors were performing CPR. They couldn’t bring him back.
“My mom came out of the hospital screaming, ‘He’s gone. Dad’s gone,’” said Alexia Ramirez.
On the drive home, in the back seat of her daughter’s car, Luciana Ramirez prayed: “Guillermo, come home, come home. Don’t leave me. Stay with me, please.”
Alexia Ramirez couldn’t hug her crying mother. At home, she began the painful task of calling each of her siblings and family members to tell them the news.
Guillermo Ramirez Jr. and Linda Hernandez were released from the hospital and are recovering at home.
In the days since Ramirez’s death, his children have been reminiscing about his life, including the moment he met their mother.
One night 30 years ago, he knocked on the door of a friend’s house where Luciana Ramirez happened to be sleeping over. She opened the door and quickly slammed it in his face, she said.
Luciana Ramirez thought she wasn’t put together enough to meet the “fine” young man. She ran upstairs to ask her friend about the visitor.
“Oh, that’s just Guillermo,” Luciana Ramirez recalled her friend saying. They’ve been inseparable since then, Luciana Ramirez said.
“He was my knight in shining armor,” she said. “He was my protector and I was his princess. All he wanted to do was provide.”
After becoming a father, Ramirez moved the family back to his hometown, Pasadena, to give them what he hoped would be a better life. He worked several low-paying jobs that kept him away from his family for most of the day.
But when as his sons got older, he feared they would follow the same path he was following as a teenager. He quit his jobs and signed up for truck driving school so that he could make more money and have a day off to spend with his kids.
On his day off each week, the father loved taking his family on outings to the movies or to explore different beaches. He would take his boys to play baseball, basketball and football in neighborhood parks with his sons’ friends trailing them, Luciana Ramirez said.
He loved to give advice based on the life he had led, telling the young boys: “I came from the streets. You don’t want to start off like me. You want to be on a straight path.”
As soon as he was able to, he supported his wife’s dreams too. He knew Luciana Ramirez had wanted to be a hairstylist since she was a teenager.
“One day he told me, ‘Hey babe, you have an appointment and you can’t be late. You just have to show up,’” Luciana Ramirez said.
She couldn’t believe it when she showed up to the address he had scribbled down for her, she said. A receptionist told her to show up to her cosmetology class the following week.
“That’s how amazing that guy is. He did everything for me and made sure I made my dreams come true,” she said.
Ramirez is survived by his mother, four siblings, his wife, six children and three grandchildren. On Friday, some members of the family were planning to say goodbye at a viewing in a local funeral home before he is cremated.
“I’m grateful for every moment he gave me and that he gave me all my children,” Luciana Ramirez said. “I can’t even describe it. That’s the best gift he left me.”
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