Juan Ciprian was an ardent support of President Donald Trump — one who believed that COVID-19 was a hoax and that masks did not work. Then, the virus killed the Massachusetts man.
"It was very, very scary," said Ciprian's granddaughter, Stephanie Landaverde.
In late September, Ciprian, 81, of Framingham, began showing symptoms of the virus. Soon after, it had spread to six other members of his family.
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"It took a matter of days for my grandfather to go from having a discharge date to the morgue," Landaverde explained. "It was a shock."
But the 24-year-old does not fault her grandfather for contracting the virus. Instead, she believes the president is to blame.
"He listened to him because he's our leader, right? He's our president," explained Landaverde. "And so he figured, you know, 'If the president of the United States is saying that we don't need a mask, then we must not need a mask.'"
After Ciprian's death, the family watched as the president also then tested positive for the virus.
"Forget about politics and be human beings," said Ciprian's daughter, Maria Landaverde.
Still hospitalized for the virus, she said she hoped people understand the toll the virus has taken on families around the country, especially ones who cannot afford proper medical care.
"He has the doctors that he needs, he has everything he needs," Maria Landaverde said of the president. "And there are so many people that don't. We need to remember that."
Ciprian's loved ones now hope sharing his story helps save others' lives from the virus.
"He didn't believe in it, and it's because of what he was hearing," said Stephanie Landaverde. "Now, it's not just my family that's in danger, it's the whole country."
The family says they respected that Ciprian had a different political view from them, but they firmly believe that put him at a greater risk for contracting COVID-19. Other family members who caught the virus are expected to recover.