Long Beach, Calif. Mayor Loses Mom & Stepdad to COVID-19 2 Weeks Apart: 'My Family is Just Broken'

Robert Garcia's stepfather died one day after his mother's memorial service

Robert Garcia
Photo: Robert Garcia/Twitter

The mayor of Long Beach, California is mourning the loss of his mother and stepfather, whose lives were cut short by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic just weeks apart.

Two weeks after losing his mother, Gabriella O’Donnell, to COVID-19, Robert Garcia revealed that his stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, also died of complications from the virus on Sunday.

Back in July, Garcia revealed in a series of tweets that his mother and stepfather, both of whom had tested positive for the novel coronavirus, had been hospitalized and placed on ventilators.

Gabriella, a longtime healthcare worker, was 61 when she died on July 26, while her husband was 58. The couple had been married for 27 years, and Greg died one day after Gabriella's memorial service.

Mayor Robert Garcia
Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty

Garcia shared his grief of losing his stepfather with supporters on Monday, writing in a tweet, "We are incredibly saddened to share that my stepfather, Greg O’Donnell, has passed away due to complications from COVID-19. It’s a heartbreaking loss for our entire family, especially for my brother Jake."

"Greg was a kind and good-hearted man, an amazing father and grandfather, and the best husband our mom could have ever hoped for," he wrote, adding, "Jake and I want to thank the heroic nurses and doctors who cared for him in his last days,."

Garcia also wrote, "My brother posted the following and I completely agree: 'As my family is just broken with the loss of my parents—I find comfort in knowing that they are together again—free of any pain or suffering.'"

Earlier last month, Garcia similarly paid tribute to his late mother in a series of tweets, writing that she "was the kindest and most compassionate person we’ve ever known."

"She loved to help people and lived a happy and joyous life," he wrote. "She will always be our guiding light and the center of our lives. My brother and I want to thank the incredible team at Long Beach Memorial for taking care of our mom during her last days."

"They are heroes and we are forever grateful," he added.

Garcia shared that his mother immigrated from Peru to the United States in search of the American Dream and later found it after she became a healthcare worker, "caring for thousands of patients over her career and assisting nurses and doctors who she loved dearly."

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It's unclear if either Gabriella or Greg suffered from any pre-existing medical conditions prior to contracting the virus. People ages 65 and older are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, as are people with underlying medical conditions, including heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. All but 6 percent of patients who needed hospitalization had one pre-existing condition, and the majority — 88 percent — had two or more, according to a large study of thousands of patients in New York City that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris paid tribute to both of Garcia's parents, first writing, "My dear friend, my heart aches for you and your family. Your beloved mother led an extraordinary life and her compassion touched countless Californians," after Gabriella's death.

"Mothers are irreplaceable but I know yours will continue to be a guiding force throughout your life," she added.

When his stepfather passed, Harris once again comforted her colleague and wrote, "My friend, my heart breaks for you and your entire family after another devastating loss. May your stepfather and your mother be your guiding light in the years to come."

As of Tuesday afternoon, Los Angeles County, where Long Beach is situated, has seen at least 574,469 cases and 10,464 deaths attributed to coronavirus, according to The New York Times.

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