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Dying from coronavirus away from family


These are tough and trying times for everybody.

The effects of COVID-19 are global and, for some, too close to home.

Sam Martinez just lost his wife to the coronavirus. I couldn’t imagine the pain that Sam – I’ve known him since our days growing up in south Stockton, reconnecting via social media in recent years – went through watching helplessly as Arcelia, who worked as a cashier at Food Maxx in San Jose, died alone in a hospital.

Sam last saw his wife of 38 years some seven days before her untimely passing on March 24.

She was isolated in the hospital, surrounded by hospital staff wearing protective gear and face shields while clinging to life on a ventilator. Her family — husband, four daughters, six grandchildren — could only watch from afar while receiving pieces of information.

Sam, in sharing his story in last Saturday's San Jose Mercury News, was “feeling like a prisoner” during this ordeal. Months earlier, Sam lost his mom but never did he think that his wife, the rock of the family for 38 years, would become a victim of this deadly disease amid an unprecedented worldwide pandemic of the modern era.

No one knows quite sure how the coronavirus is spread. Arcelia Martinez and daughter, Maryanne, went to Disneyland on March 13 to celebrate the birthday of 9-year-old Alyssa, Maryanne’s daughter.

The trip was cut short when the family matriarch began feeling ill, unaware that she had somehow contacted COVID-19.

No sooner than flying back home to San Jose, Arcelia immediately went to O'Connor Hospital. 

Her symptoms consisted of a feeling of weakness followed by coughing, and, difficulty breathing.

Some people carry the virus but without the symptoms.

This disease is very real. More so when you know of someone who is having to go forward with his life by picking up  the shattered pieces with, thankfully, the love and support of a caring family.