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Kristin Urquiza Launches National Day of Action and Vigil to ‘Marked by COVID’ and Failed by Politicians

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Thursday would have been Mark Anthony Urquiza’s 66th birthday, but he will not be there to celebrate. Instead, his daughter Kristin Urquiza is holding a vigil and ofrenda in his honor in seven cities across six different states. While the events will celebrate the man, they will also serve as a National Day of Action to call out politicians who have contributed to “unnecessary deaths” with their careless COVID-19 responses and policies. 

“Mark, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19. His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk.”

Those words were written by Kristin Urquiza about her father who was an Arizona man who “was the life of the party” until he died on June 30 after battling COVID-19 for more than three weeks. The 65-year-old man was made to believe that it was safe to go back into the world with pre-existing conditions when Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey lifted the state’s stay-at-home order on May 15. 

Kristin Urquiza and Mark Anthony Urquiza

Mark Anthony Urquiza of Arizona and daughter Kristin Urquiza. Mark died on June 30 from COVID-19, less than seven weeks after Gov. Doug Ducey said the state was “clearly on the other side of this pandemic.” (Photo courtesy of Kristen Urquiza)

The John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center tracks the impact of policies in each state, identifying case numbers aligned with dates of closures and reopenings. According to that tracking, there were 13,169 cumulative cases in Arizona on May 15, the day the order was lifted. By June 5, the state’s case total had nearly doubled. By July 1, more than 84,000 residents had tested positive.

Ducey said in mid-May:

“We are clearly on the other side of this pandemic.”

Urquiza died less than seven weeks later. They clearly were not “on the other side.”

Kristin Urquiza co-founded the Marked By COVID movement to bring attention to irresponsible and careless political actions that have resulted in the deaths of more than 165,000 people in the U.S. She wrote what she calls an “honest obituary” that clearly places responsibility for her father’s death directly on the shoulders of politicians. She went as far as to invite the governor to her father’s funeral and held the first vigil there for him at the state capitol.

Mark Anthony Urquiza of Arizona fights for his life against COVID-19. He ultimately lost that battle on June 30. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Urquiza)

The Marked By COVID group encourages other families who have lost loved ones to the virus to submit their own honest obituaries, which are posted on the organization’s website.

Juan Reynaldo Forte’s daughter wrote:

“Juan, like so many others, should not have died from Covid-19 and our family should not be Marked by COVID. His death is due to the carelessness of Governor Ron DeSantis and Donald Trump who rushed to reopen without a plan, causing cases to skyrocket in Florida.”

Forte died July 19.

Juan Carlos “Charlie” Rangel’s daughter wrote:

“The family blames his death on the deliberate neglect of the Hispanic community by President Trump and Governor Abbott. They downplayed the virus, refused to provide adequate testing and contact tracing, and littered the airways with mixed messages on how to remain safe.”

Rangel died July 12 at the age of 61.

The daughter of Isabelle Odette Hilton Papadimitrio wrote:

“Isabelle was a giant, powerful in her kindness. Like thousands of others #MarkedByCovid, she should still be alive today. Her undeserving death is due to the carelessness of politicians who undervalue healthcare workers through lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction to minimize the risks of coronavirus. Isabelle’s death was preventable…”

The health care worker called “Obie” by friends died July 4, after just one week battling the virus.

According to a press release issued by the group Tuesday, the National Day of Action aims to “push back on the false narrative that we need to choose between human lives and the economy.”

Mark Urquiza of Arizona was once the “life of the party” before he contracted COVID-19 and died June 30. His daughter Kristin Urquiza since co-founded the Marked By COVID group to call out politicians who have risked lives by not taking the virus seriously enough and leading in a way to protect residents. (Photo courtesy of Kristen Urquiza)

The event in San Francisco Thursday begins at 4:30 p.m. at 501 Castro Street. Participants will “light candles to remember loved ones lost to COVID, hold vigil for those currently battling COVID, and elevate the truth about the deadliness of this virus in hopes of saving others.” 

In San Francisco, the Latinx community makes up about 18 percent of the total population but about half of the COVID-19 cases.  

 

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Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Nik Wojcik - East Bay Editor

Journalist, editor, student, single mom to a pack of wolves, foodie, music lover, resident smart ass, and champion of vulgarity and human kindness.

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