Metro Weekly

Gay man who attended Winter Party Festival in Miami dies from COVID-19

Israel Carreras, 40, had no underlying health problems prior to contracting the COVID-19 coronavirus

gay, covid-19, coronavirus, winter party, miami
Israel Carreras – Photo: Franco Conquista.

A 40-year-old gay man with no underlying health conditions has died after contracting COVID-19.

Israel Carreras, a Cuban native who lived in South Florida for several years, died on Friday after being hospitalized for four to five days.

His partner alleges that they both contracted the virus during the Winter Party Festival in Miami, along with several other people who later tested positive.

“He started to feel sick after the event,” Franco Conquista, Carreras’s partner, told Miami FOX affiliate WSVN. “We went together. I went to his place, taking care of him for two days, and I also had it. He couldn’t breathe, so he wanted to go to the hospital, and then, he was at the hospital for four or five days. Then, they put him to sleep because he was really agitated, and then, he never woke up again.”

Induced comas are sometimes used when the patient is having severe trouble breathing and has to be put on a respirator, to prevent them from trying to pull the respirator out.

A patient on a respirator may feel like they are drowning and attempt to remove it, even though they need the respirator to breathe. This may be further exacerbated in the case of COVID-19 because the disease itself causes a victim to feel like they’re drowning and can’t catch their breath.

After Carreras and several other Winter Party attendees tested positive for COVID-19, the National LGBTQ Task Force, which organized the festival, released a statement saying that event organizers “made the most informed decision at the time, following all official guidance available at the time.”

To help reduce the spread of the virus, organizers distributed 10,000 hand sanitizer bottles and information on hygienic practices, including thorough hand-washing, to attendees, NBC News reported earlier this month.

Unfortunately, the virus can still be transmitted even when those who are infected aren’t showing any symptoms. Generally, symptoms develop within 5 days of exposure, but the incubation period may last even longer, for up to 14 days.

“I am deeply saddened by the death of Israel Carrera,” Rea Carey, executive director of the Task Force, said in a statement to Metro Weekly. “I extend my care and condolences to his boyfriend Franco, his friends and family. He was so clearly loved by many.”

Carey continued: “The particular cruelty of this virus, this pandemic, is our inability to be together in grief, to hold each other and to care for each other. We hold Israel and everyone being affected by COVID-19 in our hearts.”

Israel Carreras – Photo: Facebook.

Carreras, who has been described as a hard worker, worked about 14 hours a day to save up money to send to his family in Cuba every month, splitting his time between working at a warehouse and as an Uber driver.

Conquista, who remains in isolation while he mourns his partner’s death, is warning people to stay home and follow advice from government officials and health experts to socially distance themselves in order to avoid contracting the virus.

“They need to stay at home,” Conquista said. “It doesn’t just kill old people. This poor boy had only 40 years old. It can kill anybody, so just stay home and think of other people. Try to save other people’s lives. Just because you are not affected directly doesn’t mean that people are not suffering from this.”

Conquista has set up a GoFundMe to raise money for Carreras’s family back in Cuba. Already, the campaign has raised $7,490 out of its goal of $10,000 for the family.

“Thank you all so much for donating this far,” Conquista wrote on the page. “We have already reached half of our goal. I thank you on behalf of Israel family and we really appreciate you. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.”

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