Lauro Carlos Bautista Lopez, 69, of Harrisonburg, was near retirement after working at Cargill in Dayton for around 30 years, according to a Sunday interview with one of his sons, Ricardo Bautista.
But Lopez died on Thursday — two days after testing positive for COVID-19.
“It’s hard for me, you know,” Bautista said. “I lost my father.”
Lopez was a hard worker as well as a good and loving father, according to Bautista.
A representative of Cargill could not be reached for comment on Sunday.
Lopez married Paula Ignacia Lopez Hernandez in 1970 and they had three children, two sons and one daughter. Hernandez lives in Mexico and will be unable to come to the funeral due to the shutdowns related to COVID-19, according to Bautista.
On Sunday afternoons, Lopez attended Spanish-language Mass at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church. He disliked cold weather and enjoyed walking through parks and playing basketball on nice days, according to Bautista.
Cargill plant staff noticed Lopez’s high temperature on April 17, and he was told to go home before he started work during his usual nighttime shift at the facility.
Bautista said his father had been coughing increasingly since then.
“You can’t tell that it’s going to get bad, you know?” he said.
On that day, a Friday, Lopez made an appointment with a doctor for the following Monday, April 20. During the appointment, the doctor performed a test for COVID-19 and told him the results would be available that Wednesday, according to Bautista.
However, the doctor called back on Tuesday, telling Lopez he had tested positive for COVID-19. Over the phone, the doctor gave him a list of over-the-counter vitamins to take, according to Bautista.
That same day, Bautista and his father bought three out of the four recommended vitamins, but they were unable to find the fourth due to a miscommunication, according to Bautista.
Also on Tuesday, Lopez began having trouble breathing, which had grown worse by Wednesday, according to Bautista.
Lopez and his son lived together, so when Bautista went to his work at Pilgrim’s Pride, he made sure his father was comfortable, had food to eat and water and tea to drink. Bautista said they ate dinner together Wednesday.
On Thursday, Bautista went to work in the morning and called his father to check on him during his first break, which was around 9:45 a.m. Lopez did not pick up.
Bautista called again during his second break at work around 12:45 p.m. Again, no answer.
So Bautista went straight home after getting out of work at 4:35 p.m.
He knocked on the door of his father’s room three times. Yet again, no answer, so he went in.
“I tried to wake him. I thought he was sleeping,” Bautista said.
He put his finger to his father’s neck.
“His neck was warm, but his fingers were cold,” Bautista said.
It was then he called other members of the family, who called emergency medical personnel, but it was too late. Lopez had died.
Bautista said he was confused why, with his father being so sick, medical professionals only told Lopez to stay home and self-quarantine instead of going to the hospital.
Essential workers across the country, from grocery stores to shipping centers and meat processing plants, have voiced concerns about working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meat processing facilities across the country have had to stop production due to workers walking out, claiming employers failed to take their COVID-19 concerns seriously, and mass outbreaks forcing plants to shut down.
Some of the countries largest outbreaks have been connected to meat processing plants, such as in Sioux Falls, S.D., where a Smithfield pork plant closed indefinitely on April 13, according to a company press release. The plant is one of the largest in the country and produces 4-5% of the country’s pork products and is supplied by over 550 individual farms.
Over 640 COVID-19 cases had been linked to the 3,700-employee facility by April 17, according to a report from The New York Times. On April 17, it was the largest COVID-19 “hot spot” in the country.