As of Wednesday March 10, San Diego County has reported a total of 3,413 COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic, which was a year ago for the region. Each of those deaths represents a San Diego County resident who has passed away following their battle with the coronavirus; each of those victims had a family and a story.
The growing statistic seen all around the world and in California has been documented through numerous stories thanks to those who have taken the opportunity to speak with journalists and share about their loved one.
Grief is a difficult and powerful emotion that has overcome thousands of families across San Diego County. For many, their grief can be traced back to the coronavirus or the ramifications brought on by strict "no visitor" hospital rules or not being allowed to attend a funeral or a mass.
“To meet those individuals who have lost someone because of the virus just makes it so much more personal,” said Ricardo Ferreya.
Ferreya understands this loss all too well. He was just days away from a marriage proposal when his longtime girlfriend, Cassie Martinez, fell victim to COVID-19 at just 29-years-old and with no known underlying health conditions.
“Exactly eight years after meeting her, was the last time when I saw her,” said Ferreya.
Martinez passed away on Sept. 26, 2020 -- six months later, Ferreya shared how he continues to try and cope with her loss. He detailed the emotional and financial struggles one faces when dealing with an unexpected tragedy. He also shared how he is reminded daily why the love of his life is no longer with him.
“Anywhere I go, everywhere that I look people are being cautious and wearing a mask and using hand sanitizer and that to me is a reminder of why she passed away,” said Ferreya.
Ferreya has joined a list that is growing far too long of people who have seen lives taken in an instant.
From musicians to teachers, lucha libres, and countless grandparents, mothers and fathers, someone’s hero or best friend is gone because of a virus that spread around the globe.
“COVID, it took them and murdered my parents and it didn't have to be that way,” said Blanca Rodriguez.
In an interview with NBC 7, Rodriguez, alongside her siblings, shared how her parents were high school sweethearts. They both fell ill with the coronavirus and then died within hours of one another.
“My mom and my dad's love was epic and so was their death,” said Rodriguez.
While these stories continue to emerge from our community, it serves to treasure memories of those no longer with us and spotlight the dire consequence this virus has brought. It also is another reminder of how something we knew so little about took over our lives, scarring some forever.