High School Sweethearts Die of COVID Complications on Same Day: 'This Great Love Story Sadly Ended'

"Their love story began as High School sweethearts at the tender age of fifteen," a family member wrote of Alvaro and Sylvia Fernandez, who died hours apart on Dec. 19

Alvaro and Sylvia Fernandez
Photo: GoFundMe

A California couple died on the same day this month days after both contracting COVID-19.

Alvaro, 44, and Sylvia Fernandez, 42, died of complications from COVID-19 within hours of each other on Dec. 19, according to NBC affiliate KNBC. The couple, who were married for 25 years, leaves behind four children.

"On December 19, 2021, our family lost the beautiful souls of Alvaro and Sylvia Fernandez," organizers wrote on a GoFundMe page, in part. "Their love story began as High School sweethearts at the tender age of fifteen. Their love grew over the years as their family grew, adding amazing children to their lives (Emily, Daniel, Destinee, and Nicholas). This great love story sadly ended hours apart from each other."

"Destinee and Nicholas are only 17 years old. This will be a loss felt for a very long time," organizers continued.

Relatives told KNBC that both Alvaro — who had underlying health conditions that included diabetes — and Sylvia were unvaccinated, and had tested positive for COVID-19 days before their deaths.

"He wanted to wait and do more research," Alma Hernandez, Alvaro's sister, told KNBC of her brother's decision — going on to note that their deaths have influenced others in the family to get vaccinated if they had not already.

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"This is kind of an eye-opener for everybody in my family that whoever is not vaccinated definitely should have their vaccinations," she told the news station.

The GoFundMe to benefit the couple's children has raised over $11,600 as of Thursday afternoon.

COVID-19 cases across the country have increased in recent weeks, largely in part to the Omicron variant of the virus. According to a New York Times database, the U.S. is averaging 301,472 cases a day as of Thursday afternoon. It is the highest 7-day average since the pandemic started.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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