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Christian Cabrera, 40, tested positive for the coronavirus around Christmas. Not long afterward, he was in an emergency room with pneumonia in both lungs.
“I can’t breathe again,” he texted his brother, according to KTLA. “I really regret not getting my vaccine. If I can do it all over again I would do it in a heartbeat to save my life. I’m fighting for my life here and I wish I [had] gotten vaccinated.”
On 22 January, Mr Cabrera died. His family shared the tragic news on a GoFundMe raising money for his three-year-old son, Noel.
“We are very sad to announce that our beloved brother Christian Cabrera … has lost his battle with Covid pneumonia and passed away tonight,” Mr Cabrera’s brother, Jino Cabrera, wrote in the fundraiser. “He touched so many people’s lives because he was a very loving, kind, generous, caring person with a beautiful heart and soul.”
Even before Mr Cabrera’s death, his brother said, he worried he might not survive.
“He keeps saying, ‘Please take care of my son,’” Jino told KTLA last Thursday. “He knows he might not make it. He might die in there.”
Covid cases in Los Angles are currently dropping from their Omicron-era peak, but they’re still extremely high. As of 24 January, the city was facing an average of almost 33,000 new infections per day. And on 20 January, just two days before Mr Cabrera died, LA County reported 102 deaths from the virus in a single day – the highest number in a year.
As in the rest of the country, the worst outcomes have been among the unvaccinated. According to LA’s Department of Public Health, unvaccinated LA residents have been six times more likely to end up in an ICU than someone fully vaccinated, and 25 times more likely than a fully vaccinated person who’d also received a booster.
“Our hearts go out to everyone mourning the loss of a loved one as we are once more witnessing the utter misery caused by COVID,” Dr Barbara Ferrer, the city’s public health director, said last week. “Let’s not fool ourselves by not recognizing the danger presented by the Omicron variant, which is capable of spreading with lightning speed and causing serious illness among our most vulnerable residents.”