Teen Asks for Community Vigilance After Losing Dad To COVID-19

The teen wants his community to know that the coronavirus is a big deal, and protecting yourself also goes a long way in protecting others

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A South Bay teenager who lost his father to COVID-19 is sharing his story in hopes that it educates people about the severity of the disease and encourages people to be vigilant.

Dante Hernandez, a Montgomery High School student, said he and his family have been dealing with COVID-19 since June. Hernandez and his parents all tested positive for the virus, but sadly, his father did not survive.

“Our family, the main thing we want to say is, this virus is real. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t catch it. It doesn’t matter if nobody you know caught it. People are dying and suffering because of it,” said Hernandez.

Hernandez, 17, said he and his family have overcome many obstacles together. They’re originally from Tijuana and moved to San Diego for better opportunity when Hernandez was in the fourth grade. But their toughest journey yet, has been with COVID-19. Hernandez said his mom was the first in his immediate family to test positive for the virus in June.

“She had pneumonia, but didn’t really have a cough,” Hernandez recalled.

He said she recovered well, but five months later, his dad, 57-year-old Martin Hernandez, came home from work feeling sick.

"He had the typical fever and the cough and it ended up getting a lot stronger," remembered Dante. Shortly after, his dad tested positive for COVID-19. After a week of fighting the virus from home, Dante said his dad decided to go to his doctor back in Mexico.

“He had to stay hospitalized and I immediately felt that weight on your chest, that you feel like something is definitely not right, that things are going to go sour and the future is uncertain,” said Dante.

Martin never came back home. He passed away Dec. 5.

“He was a guy that always put himself behind others. He was also, along with my mom, my best friend. He was someone I could always talk to. Someone who had, I think, the best taste in music. I would always be in the car listening to songs with him, talking about our lives. I had so many plans, big and small, planned for us ahead,” said Dante.

Although Dante can’t fulfill those plans, he said he will continue his dad’s legacy.

“Live the life that he didn’t get to live. Live the life that he wanted us to live because. It was because of his efforts and positive thoughts that we were able to make the change and come to the U.S., get our own home, get me going on my college applications, and hopefully make it there as well. Do it all in his honor,” said Dante.

Dante tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after his dad, but he said his only symptom was loss of smell. He’s pleading with the community to wear a mask, not just to protect themselves, but to protect those around them.

Dante’s classmates at Montgomery High School set up a GoFundMe page to help his family through the holidays. The page description reads; “We have grown together as a class and a family over the years, and it wouldn’t be complete with out Dante. Dante has always been here for everyone no matter what they were going through, and now we want to do the same for him. We started this fundraiser as a class to help Dante and his mom, Norma Hernandez, during these difficult times. Thank you for your support in these difficult times, this family would appreciate the help and support.”

If you’d like to help the Hernandez Family, click here.

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