As the latest coronavirus surge continues to send more people to hospitals, a West Hollywood family shared the story of a loved one who died of COVID-19 Saturday.
The 40-year-old father, Christian Cabrera, contracted COVID-19 shortly after the Christmas holiday and was rushed to the emergency room last week, when he began struggling to breathe.
Cabrera was not vaccinated and his condition only grew worse, with pneumonia in both lungs.
“He keeps saying, ‘Please keep take care of my son,'” his brother, Jino Cabrera, told KTLA Thursday. “He knows he might not make it. He might die in there.”
Jino Cabrera’s worst fears came true Saturday evening when he received news that his brother had passed away.
Within days of experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, Christian Cabrera’s lungs had severely weakened, which eventually made it difficult for him to speak. On Thursday, however, he was able to send his brother a text message from his hospital bed in Sherman Oaks.
“I can’t breathe again,” the message read. “I really regret not getting my vaccine, if I can do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat to save my life. I’m fighting for my life here and I wish I have gotten vaccinated.”
The family announced Christian Cabrera’s passing on an Instagram post on Saturday.
“He touched so many people’s lives because was a very loving, kind, generous, caring person with a beautiful heart and soul,” the post read. “Christian was always the one to make people laugh and bring joy into a lot of peoples’ lives… He’s always there for his family and friends whenever they need him.”
The family set up a GoFundMe account to help with funeral expenses for Christian Cabrera, who’s survived by his wife and 3-year-old son.
In Los Angeles County, unvaccinated people have been six times more likely to be admitted to the ICU compared to those fully vaccinated without boosters, according to data from Dec. 30 to Jan. 12.
Meanwhile, those who were both vaccinated and boosted are 25 times less likely to end up in the ICU than unvaccinated people, according to the county health department.
“If you are fighting an enemy that is relentless, I think it’s vitally important to give your body every chance possible to get better because that’s what getting yourself vaccinated and boosted will do,” said Dr. Thomas Yadegar, medical director of the ICU at Providence Cedars Sinai Tarzana Medical Center.
Yadegar’s hospital, like many others throughout the region, is seeing more COVID-19 patients flood into the ICU.
“Our hospital and our ICU and ER are like war zones, much like last winter we are overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients,” Yadegar said.
The increasing hospitalizations come after L.A. County began seeing record-breaking infection numbers as the highly-contagious omicron variant spread across the state.
On Thursday, L.A. County confirmed 102 new COVID-19 deaths — the highest number reported in a single day since March last year.
About 90% of those deaths were among residents who became ill with COVID-19 after Dec. 24, officials said.
Countywide, COVID-19 patients account for about 30% of those in the county’s intensive care units.
“Let’s not fool ourselves by not recognizing the danger presented by the Omicron variant which is capable of spreading with lightning speed and causing serious illness among our most vulnerable residents,” L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer said in a statement Tuesday.