Life in the Wake of COVID-19

In April, José Collantes contracted the new coronavirus and quarantined himself in a hotel set up by the government in Santiago, Chile, away from his wife and young daughter. The 36-year-old Peruvian migrant showed only mild symptoms, and returned home in May, only to discover his wife, Silvia Cano, had also fallen ill. Silvia’s condition worsened quickly, and she was taken to a nearby hospital with pneumonia. Although they spoke on the phone, José and their 5-year-old daughter Kehity never saw Silvia again—she passed away in June, at the age of 37, due to complications from COVID-19. José found that he’d suddenly become a single parent, and felt haunted by questions about why Silvia had died and he survived. “Daddy, daddy, why did mommy die?” Kehity asked him. “Because she was sick,” he answered, not knowing what to say but feeling he had to respond. Silvia was one of an estimated 12,000 people who have died due to COVID-19 in Chile alone, and just one out of some 930,000 deaths recorded so far worldwide. In the three months that have passed, José has allowed journalists from the Associated Press to visit his family and document their difficult personal journey after the loss of their wife and mother. “I don’t want to give up,” he said.

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