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Sacramento family mourns loss of brother, 47, to COVID-19

David Iribarne was showing signs of improvement but the virus was too strong. He died surrounded by his brother and sister who wore full PPE.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Families of COVID-19 victims are pleading with people to take the pandemic seriously as cases surge across the country and close to home in Sacramento County.

“There are faces behind these numbers and again, there are families who love them and it gets to be overwhelming all the numbers,” said Nancy Gervais, David Iribarne’s older sister.

Gervais described her brother David as a gentle giant and a kind-hearted man.

“He was my big little brother. He was 6’5” and a hulking guy but he was still my little brother. He was so kind. A really kind person,” she said through tears.

David was supposed to get better but COVID-19 took his life in September. He was recovering from an illness in a convalescent home when he was diagnosed with coronavirus.

“There are times I forget he's gone and that's difficult,” David’s brother, Matthew Iribarne, said.

David was an avid basketball player, he read and studied poetry with the Sacramento Poetry Center, and he loved music.

“I have his basketball here. He was a force to reckon with. This, I have kept nearby. Here's to Dave,” Iribarne held up the basketball to the camera over Zoom.

David's obituary is one of many across the country where COVID-19 is written as the cause of death.

“David Curtis Iribarne passed away from COVID-19 after a lengthy illness. He was big-hearted, just like his stature. David found a wonderfully supportive community in the Sacramento poetry scene, and had many friends from every walk of life. He was a loyal and attentive uncle, brother and son, loved his family with enormous devotion,” his obituary read.

"People in the public need to take this pandemic serious, because people are dying every day," said Regina Suddoth, whose mother in Minnesota succumbed to the disease.

Regina’s brothers are in the hospital with COVID -- one of them on ventilator.

In Oklahoma City, a 13-year-old boy went from the football field to the ICU fighting for his life.

“Devon was one of the ones who did not want to go back to school because he was so scared of it,” said Rhonda Embry, the teen’s mom.

These families are pleading people to take this pandemic seriously. They say nothing is more important than protecting those you love.

“You may not be affected, or you may not think you'll be affected, but other people are. these are not just numbers. These are people with family and friends and lives, so take it seriously because the consequences are real,” Nancy said.

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