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Healthcare worker in ICU after getting COVID-19

Posted at 5:58 PM, Apr 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-14 11:45:05-04

San Diego (KGTV)- A local healthcare technician is in critical condition after contracting COVID-19. Loved ones say they are in disbelief at how fast the virus took over his body.

Ezequiel Melendez Jr., also known as Zeke, is full of life according to family. The 35-year-old works as a Respiratory Care Technician at Scripps Mercy Hospital. His mom, Sandra Hernandez, says it's in Zeke's nature to care for others.

Hernandez says as a healthcare worker, Zeke may have cared for at least two patients who tested positive for COVID-19, in early March. After not showing any symptoms, he took a two-week trip to New York but ended up getting sick.

Zeke waited until he got home before he went to Urgent Care. His mother says, just three days later, his symptoms got worse.

"He was coughing; he couldn't breathe. He had headaches, body aches, he couldn't walk," says Hernandez. "He kept calling me and texting me that he felt like he was dying."

"It's a nightmare, a straight nightmare," says Justin Austin, Zeke's best friend, and co-worker, who also works as a Respiratory Care Technician. "Not only did he contract COVID, that's one thing, but he was intubated right away."

Zeke is currently in critical condition, on a ventilator, at Scripps Memorial Hospital. He's been there for nearly 20 days. His mother says his state has only seen minor improvements. A GoFund Me has been set up to help with his medical expenses.