SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- With COVID-19 cases surging again across California, friends of a local, single dad diagnosed with coronavirus are rallying to support him.
Alfredo Huerta, 53, who lives in Linda Vista, first started feeling sick in early November. His first symptom was shortness of breath, which he initially blamed on his asthma.
"He then feeling started feeling joint pain, his whole body ached and continued to worse. Then he got a fever," said his friend Alana Hoang.
Hoang says two Fridays ago, while Huerta was waiting in his primary care doctors office, his conditions worsened.
"Shortness of breath got worse. He couldn't breathe ... He ended up in the ER," said Hoang.
There, Huerta tested positive for COVID-19 and was admitted.
"He was very scared. He didn't want his kids to have to go through something so traumatic again, like they did with their mother," said Hoang.
Huerta, a father of four - two adult children and two teens - lost his wife Sara nearly five years ago to cancer.
Alone in the hospital, his thoughts turned to his children.
"He was afraid he wasn't going to be there for them, so he started thinking the worst," said Huerta.
Meanwhile, Hoang started a Gofundme campaignto help the man she says is "part of the family."
Huerta, a gardener, has been working with her for 15 years.
"He is just so kind and gives of himself. He works harder than anyone I've know. We just pray every day he can go back to his normal," said Hoang.
This weekend, the news she was waiting for: Huerta was released. He remains weak with some breathing issues. He'll be retested soon, and he's not sure when he'll return to work.
Hoang says Huerta has a message for others.
"Take precautions. I think he would say that ... there were times when he didn't have it, when he should have, so just being cautious with our masks," said Hoang.