South Bay

COVID-19 Takes South Bay Grandparents Within Hours

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The Rodriguez family is grieving the loss of both of their parents who died within hours of each other due to COVID-19. The difficult loss comes after seven people in the family tested positive for the coronavirus.

"My mom and my dad's love was epic and so was their death," said daughter Blanca Velazquez.

Blanca Estela and Juan Manuel Rodriguez were high school sweethearts. The duo had four kids, six grandchildren and one great-grandchild. They lived in the South Bay community of Nestor, and their family says they were taking the coronavirus seriously.

"I have underlying conditions, she has an underlying condition, but we still have a lot of life to live and my parents did as well," said Velazquez.

Velazquez said the family was cautious and did not gather for the holidays. They were mindful as their parents were diabetic. Still, the coronavirus managed to strike the Rodriguez household, and while they don't know how they got the virus, family members started to become ill in mid-January.

"COVID, it took them and murdered my parents and it didn't have to be that way it," said Velazquez.

On Jan. 30 Cynthia Rodriguez called 911 for both of her parents. They were each admitted into the hospital and put on ventilators.

"We walked my dad out, we walked my mom out and I didn't want to tell them goodbye because I was scared, I was scared I wasn't going to see them anymore," said Rodriguez. "I wanted them to come home so I said to be careful."

For six days the couple battled COVID-19, on the sixth day the siblings went to visit their mom and watched as she put her hands up for a final prayer.

"That was the last thing she did was comfort for her daughters before she died because she was our mom, she was our mom," said Velazquez.

That same night, the family got a similar phone call about their father.

"They did everything to try to save him so we could say goodbye and we didn't make it, but it was OK," said Rodriguez. "I tell my brothers that my mom went to get my dad and my dad didn't die alone, my mom was there with him."

Blanca Estela and Juan Rodriguez, both 67 years old, passed away within hours of each other.

"It's a pain and then you have two pains, you know? Do I cry for my mom right now or do I cry for my dad right now?" said Juan Manuel Rodriguez Jr.

The siblings themselves all battled COVID-19 and thankfully recovered. They say they're thankful for the doctors at Kaiser Kearny Mesa and at Zion for their work and care.

"I feel like I lost part of my soul and I don't think I'll ever get it back," said Rodriguez.

The family said they wanted to cremate their parents, but right now they are told the service is backlogged and could take more than a month, so they are working to save up funds for their burial.

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