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‘He didn’t deserve that at all’: El Paso man grieves virus death of nursing home-bound brother

Joseph Rodriguez
Edward Rodriguez, 68 (right).

EL PASO, Texas -- As El Paso watches the spike of Covid-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths, we can't lose sight that each number represents a person.

Edward Rodriguez died from the coronavirus in September.

His brother, Joseph Rodriguez, shared his story with ABC-7.

(Edward Rodriguez as a teen. Photo courtesy Joseph Rodriguez.)

"He was older than me by 13 years. We grew up together, though," Rodriguez said in a video interview from his home. "At the age of 13 he had epilepsy. We eventually had to send him to a nursing home, because my mom was taking care of him and she couldn't do it anymore. She is 92 years old."

(Edward Rodriguez, right, sits on his bed in a nursing home during a visit from his brother Joseph and their mother, left. He began living in a nursing facility in 2019. Photo courtesy Joseph Rodriguez.)

Edward Rodriguez, 68, had lived in a nursing home since the fall of 2019.

The last time Rodriguez saw his brother in person was in July.

"We'd go through the window and see him through the window. But I know that he was sad that we couldn't go and talk to him face to face."

Rodriguez learned from the nursing home staff in early September his brother had contracted Covid-19.

"And before I knew it, he was going to the hospital," he added. "From the messages that I was getting from the hospital, the nurses -- they kept asking me if he had a living will -- I knew pretty much in my gut that they're preparing me."

The last time Rodriguez spoke to his brother was Sept. 17, a day before he died.

"We had to do a zoom with him. The machines were so loud. I don't even know if he could hear us. He was not able to respond. And it was just sad that it was going to be the last time we were going to get to see him," Rodriguez said.

He paused before continuing.

"Just for a person to feel like he was all alone and dying all alone. Maybe (he was) thinking, 'Does anybody know I'm here? Does anybody know what's going on with me?' He didn't deserve that. He didn't deserve that at all."

Rodriguez hopes something changes so other families don't feel the pain he does. He referred to the fallout between the city, county and the state of Texas over how to handle the pandemic.

"I know there's a lot of back and forth," he said. "But the virus doesn't care about whose side you're on. I mean, we need to stop living by our rules and go by nature's rules, because nature is ruling right now."

El Paso / Health / News / Top Stories / Video

Stephanie Valle

Stephanie Valle co-anchors ABC-7 at 5, 6 and 10 weeknights.


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