Arizona woman blames government officials for father's COVID-19 death in obituary

An Arizona woman is blaming her father’s death from the coronavirus on the state and federal response to the pandemic. 

In an obituary for Mark Anthony Urquiza, who died on June 30 after suffering from COVID-19 for more than three weeks, his daughter, Kristin Urquiza, wrote that his death was avoidable. 

“Mark, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19. His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk,” Urquiza wrote in an obituary published last week in The Arizona Republic

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She said that she would channel “sadness and rage” into creating an awareness campaign so “fewer families are forced to endure this." 

“We honor Mark's life by continuing this fight for others, even in these darkest moments,” Urquiza wrote. 

In an interview with The New York Times, she directly called out the Trump administration and Arizona Gov. Doug DuceyDoug DuceyThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Key 48 hours loom as negotiators push for relief deal The Memo: Campaigns gird for rush of early voting The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the Air Line Pilots Association - Virus bill unlikely to pass this week MORE’s (R) office over their responses to the pandemic. 

“I’m not comfortable grieving silently because I believe that my dad’s death was preventable,” Urquiza, 39, told the Times. “And had the Ducey administration, the Trump administration, been listening to experts, doctors, epidemiologists, Dr. [Anthony] Fauci, we would be in a completely different situation. I needed to speak out.”

 

Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Ducey, told The Hill in a statement, "Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mark Anthony Urquiza. We know nothing can fully alleviate the pain associated with his loss, and every loss from this virus is tragic."

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But Urquiza told the Times she doesn’t need the governor’s heart. 

“I want you to act,” she said.

To raise awareness, Urquiza has launched a Facebook page called “Marked by COVID,” in honor of her father and with the goal of driving “a culture of change around COVID prevention to save lives.” 

She also held a vigil and set up an ofrenda, an altar with pictures of her father and others lost to the virus, outside of the Arizona state Capitol.

The number of coronavirus cases is surging across Arizona, as well as multiple other states including Texas and Florida. Arizona reported 1,357 new cases and eight new deaths on Monday, bringing the state to 123,824 cases and 2,245 deaths.

—Updated at 3:42 p.m.