The Obra family
Jasmine Obra believes that without her brother Joshua, she wouldn’t exist. When 7-year-old Josh realized that his parents wouldn’t be able to live forever, he asked a sibling to never be alone.
In the spring of 2020, aged 29 and 21, Josh and Jasmine shared an apartment in Anaheim, California, not far from the Disneyland they both loved.
They both work at a 147-bed nursing facility that specializes in caring for seniors with cognitive problems like Alzheimer’s, where Jasmine, a nursing student, posted by Josh, a nurse. Sign advisory.
Both were tested for COVID-19 on the same day in June.
Both tests showed positive results.
However, only one of them survived.
While COVID-19 is much more fatal to the elderly than younger people, an investigation into the deaths of frontline health care workers by Kaiser Health News and the Guardian has uncovered numerous instances when employees under 30 years of age exposed to work. and can’t stand it either.
Of the 167 confirmed online employee deaths that the reporter investigated, 21 health workers, or 13% of the total, were under 40 and eight (5%) of the deaths were under 30 The average age of a COVID-19 death in general is 78, while the average age of the number of medical workers dying in the database is 57. This is partly due to the reports. Members only include working-age people treating patients during a pandemic – but also because, as health care workers, they were more exposed to the virus.
Andrew Chan, a doctor at Massachusetts General Hospital and an epidemiologist at Harvard Medical School, said: Young health care workers are at “the stage of their career and the stage of life they have. so much to give. ” He added: “The lost life of any young person associated with COVID should really be seen as unacceptable to society.
As coronavirus infections increase – and the lack of life-saving protective gear like N95 masks, gowns and gloves continues – national health-care workers face a disproportionate risk . Chan’s study found that health-care workers of all ages are at least three times more likely to be infected than the general population and at higher risk if they are of color or have to work. without adequate personal protective equipment. People of color are also more likely to have access to PPE.
In interviews, relatives and friends of these young victims described a special sadness and pain. Everything is waiting for the people working at the front lines. They just embarked on their careers. Some still live in family homes; others looking forward to marrying or having children. Some of the parents of the victims contacted by the Guardian and KHN said they were simply unable to talk about what happened, and they were deeply distressed.
‘Just enough to bloom’
Valeria Viveros, a 20-year-old nursing assistant, “is barely blooming,” said her uncle, Gustavo Urrea,. She did ceviche for her patients at a nursing home in Riverside, California and Urrea could see her confidence growing. When she first got sick with the virus, she went to the hospital but was sent home with Tylenol. She returned a few days later on an ambulance – her last journey.
“We are all eliminated,” Urrea said. “I can’t even believe it.”
Dulce Garcia, 29, an interpreter at a medical facility in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, passed away in May. Friend Brittany Mathis said: “It has no real feeling. Garcia was someone who wouldn’t let her friends drive if they had too many drinks, and she liked going out to bachata, Simplyngue and reggaeton dancing. “There are a lot of things she’s not done yet,” Mathis said.
While people of all ages with underlying conditions such as diabetes and obesity are at a higher risk of developing serious COVID-19 infection, the virus-specific effects on young adults are only just starting to develop. should be clear.
Doctors in New York found that many younger than usual patients have had a stroke, to the point that “the average age of our stroke patient has a major vascular stroke” – the most severe – “has drops, “said Thomas Oxley, a neurosurgeon with the Mount Sinai health system. COVID-19 infection causes inflammation, and often a blood clot, in the blood vessels as well as the lungs.
‘Too much to think about’
Angela Padula thinks she and Dennis Bradt did everything right.
Padula, 27 and Bradt, 29, got engaged on Feb. 8. She is a special education teacher, and he is a detox technician at Conifer Park, a private addiction treatment facility in Glenville. NY
The couple wanted to save a few years for their wedding, but by the beginning of April they bought her wedding ring and got engaged. Bradt, who prefers to be sweeter, chose a raspberry shaped wedding cake.
After the pandemic struck, Bradt began bathing when he got home from work. He and Padula wear masks when they’re out, usually just for groceries or gas. They stop visiting parents with immunocompromised.
On April 5, Bradt had a fever, abdominal pain and pain, and was hospitalized. His COVID-19 test was negative. Right then he couldn’t breathe. Another test was positive. On April 16, he was put in a ventilator. During the process, he choked on his own vomit causing his lungs to collapse.
Padula claims that Bradt was infected at work and is unsure if he has enough PPE. Conifer Park did not respond to questions, but according to local health authorities, 12 staff and 6 patients at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. Padula herself had symptoms so severe that she was taken to the emergency room in an ambulance.
She is not allowed to visit Bradt, and is isolated on her own at home, where she has spent her 28th birthday, taking anxiety pills prescribed by her doctor.
On May 13, when doctors were trying to coax Bradt to turn off the ventilator, he had a heart attack, Padula said. She and Bradt’s mother were allowed to say goodbye to him. But “he was gone by the time we got there,” Padula said in an interview. “He doesn’t look like himself”, swollen and tied the tube.
Today Padula is still sick. Pain in her arms, legs and back kept her awake at night. She feels as if the virus has taken over her life.
“I have days where there are so many things to think about,” she said. “I’m going to see people getting engaged on Facebook – it drives me crazy. I want to be happy for them, but it’s hard for me to be happy. We’ve been planning on having kids for a few years.”
‘I feel like he’s with me’
Less than two months before Josh and Jasmine Obra fell ill, Josh posted two photos on Instagram: One was a shot of fireworks at Disneyland; The other is an image of him in medical attire, wearing a mask, signaling peace.
“Heeeeeyo! It’s been a minute,” he wrote in the caption. “It has been a difficult month for all of us.” He’s worked with a vulnerable population, he said, and “it’s just mentally exhausting every night when I get home and I could have symptoms the next day. “
Even so, Josh is a helpful, empathic nurse who “makes things easier for everyone,” says colleague Sarah Depayso. He knows how to talk to the patient and adjusts to the stress level of others. “We’re really busy, and it’s ‘I’ll buy you lunch, I’ll buy you dinner, I’ll buy you boba.'”
Josh said it has been around 35 days since Disneyland closed. Josh’s photos – of Sleeping Beauty castle in the forest surrounded by tabebuia flowers, or of him in a mermaid sweater drew attention – and the jokes that made him attract thousands follow up on Instagram. “He has a way to capture magic,” said Brandon Joseph, his friend. Playful photos, like childhood memories.
Josh’s last post was on June 10, announcing that Disneyland plans to reopen in July. At some point, the virus reached his nursing home, infecting 49 employees and 120 residents and eventually killing 14. According to The New York Times, about 41% of all coronavirus deaths in the US are related to nursing homes, where the sick live in areas close to home.
After taking the virus test on June 12, his health became worse and worse. On June 15, he texted Joseph that he could not breathe fully without feeling like having a knife cut in his chest. On June 20, he texted that he was in the hospital and that he had a particularly bad case.
The last time Josh spoke to his family, before he was put on a ventilator, was on June 21. “During our last video call together, I was isolated in Anaheim, quarantined and Our parents are at home, “said Jasmine. It was Father’s Day, “and I cried and cried because this is the reality of our family.”
Josh’s family was not allowed into the hospital to visit him and he died on July 6.
Incidentally, Josh, like his grandparents, is buried in the same cemetery as Walt Disney – Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, California.
Before the funeral, Jasmine went to Disney’s grave, she said. “I said,” Hello, Walt. I hope you and my brother have found each other. “
Every night since his death, Jasmine watches the spectacular Southern California sunset, the shades of pink and yellow that Josh constantly returns in his photos. “And every time I feel like he’s with me. I look up at the sky and sometimes I start talking to it, and I feel like I’m talking to my brother, and he’s drawing balloons. It’s beautiful. “
Alastair Gee is a reporter now Guard.
Melissa Bailey, Eli Cahan, Shoshana Dubnow and Anna Sirianni contributed to this report. This story is part of “Lost on the front line, “an ongoing project by The guardian and Kaiser Health News (KHN) It aims to document the lives of health-care workers in the United States dying from COVID-19 and to investigate why so many people are victims of the disease. If you have colleagues or relatives that we should include, please share their stories.