Woman loses four family members to COVID-19, two in New Mexico

Coronavirus New Mexico

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Within a matter of months, one young woman lost four family members to coronavirus. Two of them died in New Mexico.

After feeling ill, two of Nataly Degante’s family members first tested negative in Mexico. Hours later, they traveled to the closest hospital in Deming where they then tested positive. They were subsequently airlifted to the Albuquerque area where they died. “Saying goodbye to my father through an iPad was the most difficult thing I had to do,” Degante said.

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The day before Thanksgiving, Degante said goodbye to her dad for the last time. “Seeing him go and not being able to hold his hand or give him a kiss…” Degante said.

Degante’s father died from coronavirus at an Albuquerque hospital. He was only 54 with no underlying conditions. Since she lives in California, she couldn’t see him in person due to New Mexico’s travel restrictions that she said the hospital enforced. “It was something you are not prepared for especially being far away,” Degante said.

He is the fourth family member she’s lost to coronavirus since August. Her 68-year-old grandmother, who she said helped raise her, passed less than a month prior at Rust Medical Center in Rio Rancho. “Hearing her voice on the breathing machine and hearing her being tired on the phone was something I don’t wish upon anybody,” Degante said.

Degante’s father worked for the Mexican government passing out COVID supplies in a border town next to Columbus, New Mexico in Luna County. They believe that is how he contracted the virus, bringing it home and passing it onto Degante’s grandmother who was visiting him in Mexico at the time. Her aunt and uncle have also passed away from the virus. “It is a family tragedy, but it is not just my family,” Degante said.

Degante’s dad and grandma are just two of more than 7,500 total hospitalizations in New Mexico over the course of this pandemic. Degante said the nurses who cared for her dad and grandma were their family when she could not be there, but she said it was sometimes challenging to get information with hospitals stretched so thin. “There was a point where I did cry,” Degante said. “I was so frustrated. The nurses would tell me ‘we are short-staffed. Many of our staff members had tested positive for COVID, so we are short staff. Just bear with us.'”

Degante said her goal is to visit the hospitals to thank them once the pandemic is over. In the meantime, she is learning to cope with extraordinary loss. “I remember my grandmother and father,” Degante said. “They have a beautiful faith. God-willing, I will be able to see them again.”

Degante said her sister who lives in Deming was able to visit her father in the hospital to say goodbye, testing positive for COVID shortly after. Degante said her sister is still battling the virus, and her mother is also sick. She said it is difficult paying for multiple funerals with medical bills still coming in. People interested in donating can do so through their GoFundMe account.

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