NEW YORK (Spectrum News NY1/CNN) - All four members of a New York family were infected by the coronavirus. Though the two children, ages 17 and 29, survived, their parents died after struggling against the disease for months.
Roberto Tobias Jr., 17, has spent a lot of time thinking about his parents, Roberto Sr. and Loida, in the short time since their deaths from COVID-19. Both immigrated from the Philippines to New York City, seeking a better life. His mother was a nurse at Harlem Hospital, and his father once worked as a bartender in the World Trade Center.
“She was such a small woman, but she managed to accomplish so many trials and so many feats,” Tobias said. “I think he has a lot of the same traits as my mom, and I’m assuming that’s sort of why they worked together so well. He was so compassionate, so hard working. He was such a resilient person.”
It was that resiliency Tobias witnessed as his father battled the coronavirus for nearly two months after he fell ill in early March. His mother fell ill shortly thereafter, as did Tobias and his 29-year-old sister, Beverly.
While Tobias’ symptoms were mild, his father and mother were admitted to the emergency room at Mount Sinai Astoria within a week of each other in late March. Eventually, his sister took herself to the ER and spent a few days at the hospital herself.
“That was a pretty rough period, as well. Just sort of seeing the house empty, not lively, as it normally would,” Tobias said.
His sister recovered, but his parents’ health faltered. According to the teenager’s GoFundMe page, his parents both had preexisting conditions, including diabetes.
Tobias learned his father was close to death on May 30. He was able to visit both parents in the hospital for the first time since they were admitted.
“I started breaking down almost immediately. I held his hand, and with my mask on, I kissed him on the forehead, and I sort of just had my last words with him,” Tobias said.
Shortly after, Tobias’s father died. One month later, on June 30, his mother died, as well.
“How much in shock I was and how devastated I was, knowing I lost my parents exactly a month from each other,” said Tobias.
Despite suffering overwhelming loss, the rising senior at Frank McCourt High School ended the year with a grade point average of 93. He’s now looking ahead to college, where he plans to study pre-medicine and eventually neurology.
“I want my parents to rest knowing that their youngest son is going to be set in life and able to navigate through everything without the need of my parents there,” Tobias said.
The GoFundMe page set up to support the teenager’s college dreams has raised more than $66,000. An aunt, who is his legal guardian, will oversee the funds because he’s a minor.