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West Jordan Family Who Lost Daughter To COVID-19 Urges Families To Stay Home This Thanksgiving

WEST JORDAN, Utah – While Thanksgiving is usually a time to gather as family, this year, some will be mourning the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19. One Utah family is begging people to take precautions this holiday.

Marcos Melendez is doing everything he can to remember his daughter Silvia Melendez.

“It’s very hard you know, especially with all these holidays coming up,” he said. “I miss her a lot.”

He’s wearing the sweater she gifted him last year and plays with her dog, Lilo. The Melendez family will have one less loved one at the dinner table this Thanksgiving.

Marcos Melendez plays with his daughter’s dog Lilo. (KSL-TV)

“She always was really, really, really happy,” he said. “She loved mashed potatoes.”

They lost their 24-year-old daughter to COVID-19 in March. She had Type 2 diabetes and underwent open-heart surgery two years prior. She and her mother were hospitalized, while Melendez and the rest of the family were quarantined at home.

“She was fighting in the hospital. We were fighting here at the house,” he said.

“That was the last time I saw her,” he said. He gave her a big hug before she left. “I told her, ‘Be strong. I raised my kids like that.”

Melendez urged families to be safe this holiday season.

Photos of Silvia Melendez, who died from COVID-19 in March. (KSL-TV)

“This is real. This is not a joke. This is something is getting worse and worse every day,” he urged.

Rossina Lake, Spanish spokesperson for the state of Utah’s response to COVID-19, echoed his message.

“We want to celebrate our traditions, but the safest way is to celebrate is with the people that live in our homes,” he said. Lake said a larger celebration is not worth the risk.

“Anytime that you bring people into your home, you are increasing your risk and their risk of infection,” she said.

Lake also said it’s not too late to take other preventative measures like getting a flu vaccine.

“This will help us avoid unnecessary hospitalizations,” she explained.

She urged people to not tire of the same basic precautions experts have given from the beginning of the pandemic.

“Practice distancing and wear masks at home, whenever you are close to your family members at risk,” Lake encouraged. She encouraged families to find other ways to connect.

“Use the blessings of technology, to enjoy those opportunities and kind of speak with your loved ones. And with your friends,” she suggested.

“I pray every day … pray for everybody, for the whole world [to] be serious,” he said.

Melendez believes he will see his daughter again one day. “One day. I will see her,” he said. “She’s my angel.”

Lake also urged families that live in multi-generational homes to take extra precautions to protect their older loved ones. She said it’s important to wear a mask even at home around those who are high risk.

“Many family members have to go work and interact with other people and then come home and interact with their entire household. It’s very important that as a family people can develop a plan on how they can protect their… older household members and at the same time be super- or hyper-vigilant when they go out to work and interact with others,” Lake added.

For more information on how your family can stay safe this holiday season visit InUtah.org/healthy.

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