NBC 7 Investigates has learned a shipyard worker died this week from COVID-19. The death follows months of reports of workers at shipyards expressing concerns about the virus.
“Our family has been suffering,” said Amalia Uribe Deaztlan.
She is the aunt of 53-year-old Ignacio “Nacho” Uribe. He died after testing positive for the virus on Monday.
“Nacho was a very friendly person,” said Uribe Deaztlan. “He got along with everyone.”
Uribe leaves behind two sons, and a wife of 26 years. Over the phone she told NBC 7 Investigates that he had a great sense of humor and was a selfless father.
"Once we was intubated we understood the situation was really bad," Uribe Deaztlan says the family is still in shock – they thought Uribe would beat the virus because of his age and because he had no underlying medical conditions.
She says the family is also still reeling from the cruelty of how this virus kills.
"We never had the chance to say goodbye," says Uribe Deaztlan. “They’re alone and they die alone and the families cannot go, we cannot visit, we cannot see them, we cannot hold their hands when they die."
But the family’s grief is also underlined with outrage.
"I just feel angry at a company that calls workers ‘essential workers’ to build ships," said Uribe Deaztlan.
Uribe worked at NASSCO - one of the big shipyards that build and fix Navy ships. Because the company fixes ships for the military, it’s considered an essential business.
NBC 7 first reported shipyard workers testing positive in March. Uribe Deaztlan says the company should have sent workers home, until it was safe to bring them back.
"If you are going to call in the workers,” says Uribe Deaztlan. “And you want them to work, please make sure that they are safe and that they have all the equipment they need to survive. We are not indispensable"
A NASSCO spokesman told NBC 7 Investigates that worker safety is the company’s top priority, and that the shipyard is following all county and CDC guidelines.
When NBC 7 Investigates asked the spokesman how many of its workers had tested positive for COVID-19, he said the company is not releasing that information.
Other shipyards in San Diego have released those numbers to NBC 7 investigates.