'Overnight our lives changed': Family mourns the loss of father to COVID-19 complications

Posted at 10:29 PM, May 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-18 07:51:47-04

As communities begin to reopen in Wisconsin, some are still mourning the loss of loved ones to the novel coronavirus.

Fabian and Luis Lira are grieving after the loss of their father. 61-year-old Feliciano Lira passed away from complications of COVID-19 on May 12th.

"I never saw my dad again at least for over two months now," Fabian said.

Feliciano became ill in mid March. On March 29, his family took him to Ascension St. Francis Hospital where he was admitted for 44 days.

"We never expected that would be the last time we’d hear from him or see him," Fabian said. "The last thing he told my mom was to pray for him," Luis said. "We did that every day. We still do."

The Lira family got to say goodbye in person, but Feliciano wasn't awake. The brothers are grateful for everything that the care team attempted while their father was in the hospital. Feliciano received convalescent plasma treatment, according to his family.

"We took all the precautions, kept our distance," Fabian said.

County data shows more than a quarter of Milwaukee County's COVID-19 cases are Hispanic. Many of those cases are concentrated on the city of Milwaukee's south side, particularly where the Lira family lives, in zip code 53215.

Last month, TMJ4 News reported the 53215 zip code on Milwaukee's south side had the fastest growing cluster of COVID-19 in Milwaukee. The zip code has the largest Latino population in the state.

Organizations have ramped up outreach efforts. Southside Organizing Committee offers daily updates in Spanish, and Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers has a weekly Facebook live event where the public can ask doctors questions.

The Wisconsin National Guard opened a free coronavirus testing site on South Chase Avenue.

Meanwhile, Fabian and Luis say everyone needs to do their part to keep themselves and others safe, especially as parts of Wisconsin reopen.

"Until this hits home I don’t think people will understand how severe this is," Fabian said. "Literally overnight our lives changed."

The family will have a funeral on Wednesday at Our Lady Queen of Peace on South 29th Street.

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