Greater than 214,000 kids left to rebuild their lives after dropping guardian to COVID

Florida Metropolis, Florida — Kenia Penalba, an emergency medical technician, was unable to consolation her step-father when he was hospitalized with COVID in August. 

“As quickly as he was intubated, his organs began failing. And we have been advised he had a day or so left to dwell. I needed to say goodbye on FaceTime as a result of they would not permit guests as a result of pandemic,” the 23-year-old advised CBS Information. 

What’s worse is her mom was sick with the virus too. 

“She died a couple of days after, which I think is extra so due to heartbreak than due to the virus,” Penalba mentioned. 

Penalba was left to take care of her 13-year-old brother, Lazaro, and 90-year-old grandmother. 

Her youthful brother is amongst greater than 214,000 kids within the U.S. who’ve misplaced a guardian or major caregiver to COVID-19. Specialists say the lack of a guardian may be linked to an elevated danger of substance abuse, dropping out of college, despair and suicide. 

“I by no means anticipated to lose them. They have been my finest mates,” Penalba mentioned. “So clearly that is the toughest half. I by no means thought I would must dwell with out that. That was my low, realizing that they are gone.” 

She has since turn out to be the top of the family, managing a full-time job, giving insulin pictures to her grandmother and making certain her brother stays on prime of his homework. 

“I am unable to actually go on a trip or something like that and that hurts me, I assume. However in the end they matter probably the most to me, so I do not thoughts sacrificing these issues,” Penalba mentioned. 

And it is appreciated. Lazaro, whose coronary heart broke “in 1,000,000 items” when he heard his mother died, mentioned his sister is “similar to my mother.” 

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