A mother of six from Palmdale who was fighting for her life after testing positive for coronavirus, died Monday, Aug. 24.
Brenda Martinez, 43, had tested positive for COVID-19 over two weeks ago and had been hospitalized at Palmdale Regional Medical Center. Last weekend she was placed on life support.
Her children have also been diagnosed with COVID-19, and are under quarantine orders at home.
Martinez’s death is a jarring reminder of the devastating toll the pandemic continues to take on the public.
While LA county health officials report that the number of daily cases had dropped below 1,000 for the first time since June — 989 new cases were reported on Tuesday, Aug. 25 — there is still no available vaccine. That means further large outbreaks are possible.
Sister-in-law Crystal Acosta Torres spoke with the San Fernando Valley Sun/El Sol newspaper on Monday, sharing her hope that Martinez could recover because “her babies needed her.”
But the doctors said “she needed a miracle,” Torres said.
The miracle did not come.
The grieving family is reeling and doesn’t know how Martinez got infected. She was a stay-at-home mother who suffered from diabetes, but was “very careful,” Acosta Torres said.
“She only went out when needed. We really don’t know how she got it.”
Acosta Torres said that Martinez began feeling “a little under the weather” a few weeks ago, which prompted her to get tested.
After learning she had tested positive, Martinez had been quarantined in her apartment, but her health quickly deteriorated.
She started having trouble breathing and that’s when she decided to go to the hospital.
Her six children, ranging in ages from 2 to 19, “are showing minor symptoms right now,” Acosta Torres said. “We don’t know if they’ve had it all along or just recently,”
The oldest children — Juan Jose, 19, and Jovanna, 15 — have been caring for their siblings.
“We live in the same apartment complex. We talk to them every day from the outside to see how they’re doing, but we can’t go in and be there with them,” Acosta Torres said.
Other family members have been providing the children with the things they need, but they are finding it increasingly difficult to cover all their necessities.
The children “are heartbroken,” Acosta Torres said. “The two older ones that have more understanding are having the hardest time. The little ones don’t know much, we didn’t tell them their mom was fighting for her life,” she said.
The children were not able to visit their mother in the hospital, not only because of their condition but also because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Over the weekend, Jovanna, 15, and her older brother Juan Jose, 19, tried to have a Zoom call with their mom, but by then she had lost consciousness and they were only able to see her via video.
Acosta Torres said her sister-in-law always tried to help others.
“She was an amazing person, amazing mother. To see her going through this, it’s heartbreaking,” she said. “She helped me so many times.”
The children’s father is not able to help, so Acosta Torres decided to open a GoFundMe account on behalf of her oldest nephew, Juan, and for the children.
The initial goal was to raise $5,000 to help the children pay $1,200 in rent and cover other basic necessities they needed, including food. But after Martinez passed away, they increased the goal amount to $50,000 to cover funeral expenses and contribute more to the children.
As of Tuesday, more than 1,000 donors had contributed $50,921 to the GoFundMe page.
Acosta Torres expressed gratitude to those who have helped their family.
“I just want to say thank you to everyone,” Acosta Torres said. “It’s hard for the family, and we want to thank everyone for helping where they can. Thank you to everyone who has shared our post and thank you for all your prayers. Our family definitely feels the love and support.”
People who donated on the GoFundMe page expressed their condolences to the family.
“I’m sorry your family is going through this. She’s a beautiful mother and I enjoyed having her daughter in my class. I’m praying everyones overall health Stay Strong (sic),” wrote Andrea Rebollar.
“I’m very sorry! My prayers are with you. I remember Brenda a kind and wonderful person. We went to school together in JR high we share beautiful memories,” wrote Dora Revolorio.
“My heart is so saddened by her passing. Her children need support from anyone that can donate even a little something,” wrote Jon Rene Stephen.
“I hope the children stay together. It will be hard for the teenage son to raise his siblings by his self (sic). I wish we can do more,” wrote Sherri Rodriguez.
If you want to help the family with a donation, visit https://bit.ly/3ldK63Z.