Youngest person to die of COVID in county was lifelong Watsonville resident, library volunteer
A 30-year-old Watsonville resident who volunteered at her hometown’s public library has become the youngest person in Santa Cruz County to die from the coronavirus, her family said Monday.
COVID South County, Lookout’s look at how the pandemic has disproportionately affected Watsonville and the surrounding area, is among eight Lookout initiatives documenting all aspects of its toll. For more, go to our COVID 2021 section, sign up for COVID Text Alerts and our COVID PM newsletter here, and leave feedback and ask questions at the end of this story.
Miriam Villalobos died the morning of Dec. 17 after “rapidly” developing COVID-19, according to an online fundraiser that her sister, Nahara Villalobos, organized to crowdsource money for funeral costs. As of Monday evening, more than 100 people had donated a collective $7,290 for Miriam Villalobos’ funeral.
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“Throughout her lifetime Miriam was bound to her wheelchair but that didn’t stop her from achieving her goals and being an active member of the community,” Nahara Villalobos wrote on GoFundMe. “The people that we’re blessed to be able to know Miriam knew how she could be sweet, caring, and outgoing.”
Miriam Villalobos was hospitalized from Dec. 4 until her death, her sister said. While she was hospitalized, family members would visit her by standing outside and peering through the window of her hospital room. Several Villalobos family members have been recovering from COVID-19 in recent days, Nahara Villalobos also said.
Miriam “Miri” Villalobos was a music lover and community volunteer who helped disinfect books for children at the Watsonville Public Library, her sister said. Hers was one of seven deaths announced by county officials Monday.
She is survived by her parents, Arturo and Ofelia, her siblings, Edgardo, Israel and Nahara, and by her niece, Giselle, and her nephews, Anarae and Brandon.
The family will host a visitation on January 4 at Ave Maria Memorial Chapel in Watsonville. The funeral mass will take place the following day, at Our Lady of Assumption Church.
Watsonville, a city that accounts for little more than 18% of the total population of Santa Cruz County, has been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 with almost 55% of all known cases. The Hispanic/Latinx community has been hardest hit in Santa Cruz County — a trend that matches statewide and national data — accounting for 55% of all cases and 45% of all deaths in the county.
Earlier this year, a person in their 40s also died from the virus. Statewide, only about 7% of all the people who have died of COVID-19 fall in the 18-49 age group, about 1,700 people. Santa Cruz County has fared better, with 2 out of 83 deaths in that age demographic.