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Coronavirus claims lives of 3 family members over 3 weekends

A fourth member is recovering from the virus at home.

An immigrant Nicaraguan family had been living a loving, close-knit life in America for over three decades and in three weeks, the novel coronavirus ended their lives, relatives said.

Marcela Lastre, 33, of North Carolina said she and other members of her kin are devastated after the virus killed her uncle and aunt, Mario and Esperanza Mayorga, both 72, and cousin, Mario Mayorga Jr., 42. Lastre's other cousin, Violeta Mayorga, 45, had also contracted the virus, but she is recovering at the family's Miami home.

Mario Mayorga Jr. was diagnosed with the virus in mid-March and about a week later the other family members tested positive. The patriarch died on April 10, Esperanza Mayorga died nine days later and Mario Mayorga Jr. died on Sunday, according to Lastre.

"Ever since we got the stay-at-home order, every weekend we got bad news," she told ABC News.

Mario Mayorga Jr., who was a supervisor for a cleaning service that had medical office clients, came down with a fever and dry cough around mid-March and went to a doctor, according to Lastre. Although he wasn't experiencing respiratory issues related to COVID-19, he was instructed to stay at home, and self-isolate.

"I had video chatted with him during that time," Lastre recalled. "He looked like he had a very bad flu."

A few days after that visit, Mario Jr. began to suffer respiratory problems and was admitted to the hospital where he tested positive, Lastre said. Over the next few weeks, Mario Jr.'s condition began to decline, and he needed a bypass surgery and a ventilator, according to his cousin.

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The remaining family members were tested shortly after he was hospitalized but the first results didn't show any signs of the disease. Mario, Sr., however, was growing more stressed as his son's condition didn't show any signs of improvement, according to Lastre.

"He locked himself in his room and kept wondering what if something bad happens to [his son]?" she said. "He wasn't eating."

The family took Mario Sr. to the hospital over his stress and the family was retested for the virus. This time they all came back positive, and had to be hospitalized, according to Lastre.

"It was about three to 5 days from one person showing symptoms to the next one," Lastre said. "We thought they would all show symptoms at the same time."

Everyone but Violeta Mayorga’s condition declined so rapidly that Lastre said she was unsure if Mario Jr. was ever told about his parents' deaths before his own passing.

"Between the ventilator and the sedatives, I don't know how much he was aware of in the last few weeks," she said.

Lastre said their deaths were a terrible end to a long journey. The family moved from Nicaragua to America in the '80s, worked hard and gave back to the community.

Mario Mayorga Sr. worked in a funeral home and Esperanza worked as a nanny for many years before becoming a homemaker, according to Lastre.

"They were grateful to be here and become U.S. citizens," she said. "This has been a family who has been together for so long and built so much together."

What to know about Coronavirus:

  • How it started and how to protect yourself: Coronavirus explained
  • What to do if you have symptoms: Coronavirus symptoms
  • Tracking the spread in the US and Worldwide: Coronavirus map
  • Violeta Mayorga, who works as a hospital clerical worker, is back in the house but has to remain isolated from her 8-year-old son, according to Lastre. She said her cousin's been struggling through this, especially since she hasn't had any physical contact with her friends and family, but support she has received through messages, calls and video has helped.

    "She has to reinvent this life and start fresh without them," Lastre said. "It’s a lot to handle. She knows she has to push forward."

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