A 24-year-old emergency medical technician in New Jersey has died due to complications from the coronavirus, NJ.com reported.
The elderly and those with underlying health conditions are considered most at risk for severe cases of the coronavirus, but that doesn’t mean younger people are immune — especially first responders and others who are working on the front lines of the global health crisis.
Kevin Leiva, an EMT at North Bergen and St. Claire’s Dover Hospital in New Jersey, was pronounced dead on Tuesday due to a COVID-19 infection that resulted in complications.
His death came exactly one week after 33-year-old firefighter Israel Tolentino Jr., who also worked as an EMT at the same hospital, died due to complications from a coronavirus infection, the New York Post reported.
Leiva, who was born in Paterson and lived in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey, leaves behind his wife, Marina and a host of grieving co-workers and friends.
Friends, coworkers, governor pay respects
NJ.com reported that Leiva’s death from coronavirus was confirmed by his supervisor, Cesar Perez, who along with Leiva’s partner, Kara Connolly, among others, mourned his early passing.
“We did everything together,” Connolly, his partner of two years, recalled. “We became really close. I talked to him every single day. He’s so selfless. He did everything for anybody.”
She and others who knew him said that he was incredibly dedicated to his job and serious while on duty, but was also smart, always positive, and often funny while interacting with others.
“Kevin’s coworkers describe him as a ‘Big Teddy Bear’ with a big smile. Always worrying about others. Kevin’s big heart made everyone feel comforted and special. He was a hard worker, a leader and a loveable person…a friend to all,” St. Clares Hospital said in a social media post.
Leiva’s death was mentioned by Democratic New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy during a coronavirus media briefing on Thursday. Murphy noted the EMT’s youth and said, “Bless him. We thank him for his service. For an extraordinary lifetime. For his service to this state.”
Kevin Leiva was an EMT in North Bergen and at St. Claire’s Hospital. A Paterson native, he and his wife, Marina, called Pompton Lakes home.
Kevin was only 24 years old. We thank him for his service to our state and our families. We will not forget him. pic.twitter.com/AD0PMF25lB
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 9, 2020
A candlelight vigil was held in Leiva’s honor on Friday night at the Passaic EMS headquarters so that his family and friends could pay their respects.
The state of New Jersey currently has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases in the U.S., after New York state, NJ.com reports. New Jersey has over 54,000 cases as of Friday, with 1,932 deaths.