Alvaro, 44 and Sylvia, 42 Fernandez, of Loma Linda, California, died just hours apart due to Covid-19. Both were unvaccinated. They leave behind four children.
“My brother and my sister-in-law, they were very close,” Salvador Fernandez, Alvaro’s brother, told KNBC. “They were high school sweethearts. They've been together since she was 15. One couldn’t live without the other.”
The couple had been married for 25 years.
According to family members, the pair both tested positive for the virus just days before they died. Mr Fernandez reportedly had underlying health issues, including diabetes.
The family also explained why the couple chose not to get the coronavirus vaccine.
“He wanted to wait and do more research,” Mr Fernandez's sister, Alma Hernandez, said. “He Googled information. He didn’t want to believe everything that was on the news. This is kind of an eye opener for everybody in my family that whoever is not vaccinated definitely should have their vaccinations.”
Health officials have warned for weeks that the highly transmissible Omicron variant would cause a spike in cases, with an expected peak sometime in January. Some cities and states have moved to impose mask wearing and vaccine passports to help mitigate the virus's spread, but the best protection against the Omicron variant is still vaccination.
While fully vaccinated individuals are still susceptible to catching the virus, doctors have noted that symptoms in vaccinated individuals are generally much more mild than Omicron symptoms in unvaccinated individuals.
California has not escaped the explosive spread of the latest variant; San Bernardino County has already reported more than 383,700 cases of Covid-19, resulting in more than 6,000 deaths.
A GoFundMe has been set up to help support the Fernandez's four children.
"This will be a loss felt for a very long time. To be left without their parents, and to have the carry the weight of being pushed into adulthood while [they're] still children themselves," the GoFundMe page reads.
As of Friday, the family had raised $13,000 of its $30,000 goal.