Samantha Diaz, Florida Health Care Worker, Dies at 29

Samantha Diaz, a medical assistant in Florida who took great satisfaction in caring for other people, was planning to become a registered nurse.

But in late June, her test for the coronavirus came back positive. She was hospitalized. But because she was otherwise healthy, she was expected to survive. Then the virus took over.

She died on July 10 at a hospital in Palm Beach near where she worked, her mother, Anadelia Diaz, said. She was nine days shy of 30.

Before she died, two of her three children — Anaya, who is 16 months old, and Adrian, who is 2 ½ and has autism — also contracted the virus.

Her mother said in an interview that she was now caring for her grandchildren but had to quit her job as a housekeeper to do so. That has left the family with only the income of Anadelia’s husband, Richard Diaz, a delivery driver.

“Our world came crashing down,” Ms. Diaz said. “Now we’re left to raise three children.”

Samantha Diaz, known as Sammy, was the granddaughter of migrant workers from Mexico and among the first in her large extended family who did not grow up picking crops in the fields. Her grandmother, Cleofas Martinez, known as Coca, was a leading organizer among migrant workers in Indiantown in Martin County, according to The Palm Beach Post.

Ms. Diaz was born on July 19, 1990, in Palm Beach Gardens. She grew up in West Palm Beach and graduated from South Tech Academy, where she studied cosmetology. She later took college courses in health and science and got a job as a medical assistant in a cardiology practice.

“She loved helping people when they were ill,” her mother said. “It was her passion.”

Ms. Diaz’s other passions were dancing and music, especially salsa, merengue and Tejano. And she loved her family’s tradition of celebrating life’s milestones — birthdays, anniversaries, holidays — with elaborate cakes.

In addition to her parents and her two small children, she is survived by a teenage son, Ricardo.

Ms. Diaz was distraught that Florida had not shut down when the virus began its recent resurgence in June; the state is now coping with one of the deadliest Covid-19 outbreaks in the country. This has made daily life for her family a “nightmare,” her mother said.

“We all walk around with masks and gloves, and we sanitize everything when the babies nap,” Anadelia Diaz said. “We go through bottles and bottles and bottles of Clorox wipes. We leave everything out for 10 hours for the sun to hit them. We use paper cups and plates and just throw everything away. We’re constantly washing sheets and bedding and airing out the house.”

But the hardest part, she said, has been that the toddlers cry constantly and are inconsolable — not just because they are sick and have lost their mother, but because fear of the virus means that no one picks them up and hugs them.

“We can’t love on them when they cry,” Ms. Diaz said.