With vaccinations picking up across California and case rates starting to drop, counties eager to reopen for business are easing coronavirus restrictions.
There are hope things will finally start returning to normal. But for those who have lost someone, their lives are permanently changed.
“We all think that it's never going to be us,” said Jasmiel Rivera. “That it's never going to come to our family. But when it does you can't go back and wish you would’ve worn your mask, or stayed away."
A San Diego family with deep roots in their church faced deep sorrow last month when their patriarch died of COVID-19.
Less than three weeks later, the Rivera family was grieving another loss, this time their matriarch.
“We just couldn’t believe that this happened to us," said Daniel Rivera.
The coronavirus has infected more than 250,000 San Diegans and killed more than 3,000.
Taurino and Silvia Rivera, long-time pastors of Faith Hope and Love Church in the College Area, contracted the virus in January. Their youngest son, Daniel, who is their next-door neighbor was diagnosed just a few days before.
“I was at the hospital when my parents got admitted into the same hospital,” said Daniel Rivera. “It really broke my heart that my parents were in the same hospital."
Daniel recovered, but his parents remained in ventilators. Early in the morning on Feb. 1, Taurino passed away.
Two weeks later Silvia seemed to improve. Doctors took her off the ventilator and moved her to rehabiliatation center.
“I thought, 'Man, my mom is going to be back,'" said Jasmiel Rivera.
But just two days after leaving the hospital Silvia also passed away.
“It was everything we lived with my dad's death again,” said Daniel Rivera. ”They called us at 3 a.m., the same time my dad died. It’s been a whole nightmare since the beginning of 2021. It’s unreal."
A nightmare they don't wish on anyone. So, as COVID-19 restrictions begin to loosen up, the Rivera's have one message to our community.
“COVID doesn't really care what ethnicity you are, what gender you are,” said Daniel Rivera.”It’s a killer and if we can prevent it by wearing a mask, washing our hands, do it because you can save someone’s life."
Taurino was 57 years old and his wife was 56. Family members tell NBC 7 they had no underlying conditions. They leave behind four sons and seven grandkids.