‘They're Like Family To Us': Longtime Clerk Talks About Losing Customers to COVID-19

The San Diego COVID-19 memorial group has set up several altars honoring neighbors who have passed away from the coronavirus

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Ahead of Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, there is a growing number of altars appearing across the county, including tributes created specifically for those we've lost to the coronavirus.

Lupe Zamorano is a clerk at Red Bird market in the heart of National City. She says she has lost several customers to the coronavirus.

“It’s sad because like I’m here every morning, I say good morning, and, you know, I take it personal because they’re like family to us,” Zamorano said.

Zamorano's customers have been part of her life for the last 16 years, which is why when the San Diego COVID-19 memorial group asked to set up an altar in front of the Red Bird market Lupe and the owner quickly agreed.

“You don’t have to be pushed to understand how bad it is,” Zamorano said.

At the start of the pandemic the beloved grandmother lost her brother. While he didn't pass away from the virus, pandemic-related restrictions kept Zamorano and her family from holding a large traditional funeral.

“I was a victim of that because my brother deserved a better funeral than that,” she said.

On the heels of Día de Los Muertos, this Mexican tradition is being fully embraced by this south bay community.

“This community is wonderful, our customers are the best and people who come every day are very loyal, from the customers who come buy tortillas, carnes, tacos, just to say ‘Lupita good morning,’” said Zamorano. “I feel loved with these people.”

The heart of Día de los Muertos is to honor those who have passed. It also serves as a reminder that life is precious and fleeting.

Supervisor Nathan Fletcher is also offering a way to honor loved ones lost by COVID-19. He's inviting family and friends to submit the name of their loved one along with a picture to the COVID-19 ALTAR DE MUERTOS project.

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