Rosa Cerna visits the graves of her dad and uncle, who both died of Covid-19.
CNN  — 

Most New Year’s Days, Rosa Cerna would be celebrating the birthdays of her dad and uncle – brothers born exactly one year apart. This year, she mourned them both at a cemetery in Simi Valley, California.

Visiting the graves of the brothers who died of Covid-19, Cerna said she is angry that her 73-year-old father had so much more life to live and that the death of two important men in her life could have been prevented if more people had taken it seriously, she told CNN.

“Every day I live knowing that my dad passed from Covid, that my uncle passed from Covid. And some people, I don’t think, understand that it could impact them the same way,” she said. “They live so carelessly … but whatever you do could affect somebody else, just like they did to them.”

As Cerna grieved this weekend, President Donald Trump questioned the number of cases and deaths in the US in a tweet, using the term “Fake News.”

He claimed the cases and deaths are “far exaggerated in the United States because of @CDCgov’s ridiculous method of determination compared to other countries, many of whom report, purposely, very inaccurately and low,” he wrote.

Both infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci and US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams contradicted his claims Sunday, saying there was no basis for them.

“It’s an insult,” Cerna said. “If it was fake, then my dad would be alive. My uncle … all the rest of the people that have died would be alive.”

Her father, Virgilio, and his brother did everything together, she said. Cerna said her uncle – a Navy veteran – was like a second father to her growing up.

So when Fourth of July weekend came around, her uncle drove over for a visit. The brothers shared a lovely meal, she said. And though Cerna’s uncle was having some symptoms, he did not know he had Covid-19, she said.

Virgilio Cerna, an immigrant from
El Salvador, worked as a custodian at Universal.

By the end of that week, the family found out her uncle was positive, she said, and they all expected that her father, who had started to feel sick, would test positive too.

About a week later, she said, her father went to the emergency room, and she never saw him again.

Now, Cerna believes, her father would want others to understand the risks embedded in the choices they make as the pandemic continues.

“Don’t go to parties. Do follow social distancing. Do wear masks,” Cerna said. “You might not care about yourself, but you need to care about other people.”

California hospitals are treating an unprecedented number of patients as case skyrocket in the state. On Sunday, California reported more than 45,000 new cases and 21,510 current coronavirus hospitalizations, according to the state’s health department.