"He always greeted strangers walking past him with a chipper 'Good Morning!' and a big smile," Nico Santos said of his stepdad, Sonny

By Jen Juneau
March 30, 2020 11:25 AM
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Nico Santos‘ stepfather has died from coronavirus-related causes.

In a heartbreaking Instagram post on Sunday, the Superstore star revealed both that his stepdad, Sonny, had died after contracting the virus and that his mother is currently battling it.

“This is my stepdad Sonny and my mom Tita. My Tito Sonny passed away yesterday after losing his battle with COVID-19,” Santos, 40, captioned a photo of the couple at a restaurant. “He was a kind, caring man. Friendly to a fault. He always greeted strangers walking past him with a chipper ‘Good Morning!’ and a big smile. He had a great laugh that filled the room with joy.”

The actor shared that while his mom is “fighting” coronavirus, “she has not required hospitalization” at this time. And though “the loss of [his] stepfather is devastating,” what has truly “gutted” Santos “is that this pandemic has kept my family apart,” he says of social distancing.

Nico Santos
Credit: Rodin Eckenroth/FilmMagic

“We were unable to be with him during his last days,” he writes. “I can’t hold my mother as she mourns her husband. I can’t hug my brother as he contemplates a world without his father. I can’t wipe away the tears from my nephews’ eyes as they wonder why their Lolo Sonny isn’t here anymore.”

Santos went on to offer his gratitude to family, friends and fans “who offered up prayers, love and assistance to our family during this difficult time.”

“Please continue to pray and send healing energy to my mom. I hope all of you are staying safe and healthy,” he said. “Rest In Peace Tito Sonny. I love you.”

The Crazy Rich Asians actor’s tragic family news came one week after he tweeted, “If you have prayers, positive thoughts and energy to spare please send them our way.”

“My family could use it,” Santos added, imploring his followers to “stay safe everyone. And STAY HOME.”

Coronavirus, COVID-19 map
Confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, as of the morning of March 30
| Credit: Martin Schwartz

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President Donald Trump has extended social distancing guidelines to April 30 in order to continue to “slow the spread” of COVID-19, he announced on Sunday. (As of Monday morning, there are at least 141,995 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the U.S. — the most worldwide — with at least 2,486 people having died from coronavirus-related illness domestically.)

“The modeling estimates that the peak in death rate is likely to hit in two weeks. I will say it again. The peak, the highest point of death rates, remember this, is likely to hit in two weeks,” Trump, 73, said during the press briefing. “Therefore, we will be extending our guidelines to April 30 to slow the spread.”

The president had previously expressed a desire to reopen the country by Easter. However, he told reporters on Sunday, “it was just an aspiration,” adding that he hopes the country will “be well on our way to recovery” by June 1.

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 CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.