The young mother’s oldest son attended her funeral on his birthday.
COVID-19 took the life of 29-year-old Samantha Diaz, the granddaughter of a Mexican migrant and mother of three who worked her way through school and became a medical assistant to a cardiologist.
Her death is one of many that illustrates not only how the young are not immune to the most tragic outcome of this disease but also how those in the health-care field remain especially vulnerable.
Diaz of West Palm Beach resident succumbed to the disease on July 10 at JFK Medical Center, just a few blocks from where she worked as a medical assistant.
She leaves behind a 2-year-old son and 1-year-old daughter as well as another 14-year-old son. The teen, on his own birthday, attended his mother’s funeral Thursday at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Indiantown where face masks are required.
Related: Community remembers Florida woman, ‘Desi,’ who died of COVID-19 after going to work with respiratory symptoms
When contacted the day before the funeral, Diaz’s mother — Anadelia Martinez — said she was too overwhelmed to speak of her daughter’s passing. She was in the backyard with her grandchildren, trying to tire them out to take a nap.
Diaz’s grandmother, Cleofas "Coca" Martinez, was a leader among migrant workers in Indiantown in Martin County, said Guerillmo Carrasco of the Guatemalan Maya Center.
"She became so involved in organizing the community," he said.
Her granddaughter was the result of the American immigrant dream, going to school, becoming a medical technician, working in a doctor’s office far away from the fields where her grandmother toiled.
Carrasaco said he had met Samantha several times and was taken aback at how she balanced her career with raising her children.
Friends and family worried that Diaz’s job put her in jeopardy of catching the virus from patients, but there is no way to determine for sure where she picked it up, they say.
Her voice still can be heard on the voicemail for cardiologist Dr. Nagavardhan Vasuki. His medical practice declined to comment, deferring to the family’s wishes.
Melissa Martinez said her niece, who would have turned 30 next week, started feeling sick last month. She tested positive on June 15 and started to show symptoms, missing work.
By June 24 she was hospitalized but her family thought because of her age and health, Samantha would pull through.
And it certainly appeared that would be the case. They started to wean her off the ventilator but then the coronavirus got the upper hand and she was gone.
"This virus doesn’t have a face and everybody needs to be careful, the young and the older populations," Melissa Martinez said. "Nobody thinks about it or worries about it until it hits home. We need to protect ourselves."
Dr. Alina Alonso, Palm Beach County’s top health official, said this week that young people are indeed dying and even those under the age of 18 are testing positive at a rate of 31 percent and that lung damage has been found in children who are asymptomatic.
Now Diaz’s family has to rally around to raise Diaz’s children. "I hadn’t changed a diaper in how long?" Melissa Martinez said.
On Diaz’s Facebook page, there are posts after posts of Bible verses. A photo of her eldest son graces the top of the page.
One post was titled, "Change is coming." She had also posted an article on Facebook about whether Florida should shut down again because of the coronavirus.
Diaz wrote simply: "Yessss."
This story originally published to palmbeachpost.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.