“Just a really kind and beautiful family,” said Sergio Pecirno, Luis Tapiru’s childhood friend. “Genuine and very kind people.”
Luis Tapiru, II, 20, died from COVID-19 on April 14, and is now among Chicago’s youngest victims of the virus.
“He was like a brother to me, and the amount of time that we spent together …” Pecirno said.
Pecirno said they spoke on the phone just days before Luis got sick.
“It all happened really fast,” he said. “I was going to go over to his house to hang out, but we decided it was not a good idea because of the COVID situation. He was like, ‘It’s OK, I’ll see you when this is all over,’ and that was the last thing he said.”
While Luis was battling COVID-19, his parents, Josephine and Luis Sr., were already in the hospital. Four days after Luis died, 56-year-old Josephine also died from COVID-19. Family members said she got sick first.
Luis was found dead in his home, his brother said.
“I kept calling him and calling him and he did not pick up,” said his older brother Justin Tapiru.
Justin said Luis was told to stay home and self-isolate because both his parents were sick with COVID-19.
“He told me in the morning that he was fine,” Justin said. “He said he maybe coughed a little bit.”
“For the entire household to be affected by it in such a serious way, it really shows how serious it is,” Pecirno said.
Luis Sr. was just taken off a ventilator last week, waking up to find his family did not make it.
“He can barely walk right now,” Justin said.
The family believes COVID-19 started spreading through their apartment on March 31, when Josephine stayed home from work because she wasn’t feeling well. Her family believes she got the virus from a local nursing home where she worked.
“One of her coworkers got sick, and then everybody else got sick,” Justin said.
The Filipino family moved to Chicago from Canada. The community remembers them as hardworking and loving. Their neighbors are working to raise money to help them during this difficult time.
“The grieving process is really different because you have to start by making sense of it, and then I think we are seeing how serious this is,” said Pecirno.
This week, Luis Sr. was moved out of the hospital and to a rehab center to help with his ongoing recovery.
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