Omar Martinez West Liberty Iowa City firefighter father dies from coronavirus, mom & sister until recently clung to life. How race and income disproportionately affect rate of contraction.
An Iowa City firefighter has told of having to bear witness to the ravages of the coronavirus after the deadly bug infected his family, killing his father, and leaving his mother and sister until recently clinging to life.
Omar Martinez’s mother, Aurelia, according to the 29 year old West Liberty firefighter first fell sick a month ago with what turned out to be COVID-19 after becoming infected at the Iowa egg factory she works.
Soon after, the woman’s husband, Jose Gabriel Martinez, 58, ended up contracting the deadly virus along with their 22 year old daughter. While both father and daughter were mandated to hospital, the committed factory worker didn’t make it.
According to Omar, his younger sister, Evelyn has yet to find out their father recently passing away. The 22 year old until Thursday had been on a life saving ventilator. The brother dreads having to tell his sister what has become of their father.
Omar remains stoic, grateful that his mother and sister have recovered, while maintaining hope that he, and his two siblings and Evelyn’s 2-year-old daughter, his niece, stay healthy.
Latinos make up 6% of Iowa’s population, account for more than 22% of confirmed COVID-19 cases:
Omar Martinez’s family plight has led to wide support from neighbors in West Liberty, a heavily Hispanic city of 3,800 where his family settled after immigrating from Mexico in the 1990s the desmoinesregister reports.
In coming out with his story, the West Liberty firefighter told of wanting people to know how easily the virus can spread and how quickly possible contractions can devastate a family.
‘All it takes is one person to be irresponsible to affect a family that doesn’t deserve it,’ Omar Martinez told the media outlet. ‘I don’t wish this upon anybody. I get asked every day how do I do it? I have no answers.’
The Martinez family’s situation is illustrative of the startling racial and ethnic disparities among those getting infected and dying from the coronavirus.
While Latinos make up 6% of Iowa‘s population, they have accounted for more than 22% of its confirmed COVID-19 cases, according to the state Department of Public Health. The disparity widened as more testing was conducted on plant workers, who are disproportionately Latino and account for more than a quarter of Iowa’s confirmed cases. State officials say more dense housing environments also play a role.
Neighbors have inundated the family with groceries and other offers of help. A local grocery store held a fundraiser for the family. Donors have given more than $25,515 to a GoFundMe account (as of early Monday morning, EST) to cover funeral and health expenses.
Omar, said his father had been touched by the outpouring prior to his death.
‘Seeing all the groceries, his face would light up with a smile,’ he said. ‘The little things like that brightened up his world.’