Teen, 19, Becomes Caretaker To His Five Siblings After Their Mum Dies Of Covid-19

by : Julia Banim on : 02 Nov 2020 12:03
Juan Jose MartinezJuan Jose MartinezJuan Jose Martinez/Facebook

A teenager from California has become a caretaker for four out of his five younger siblings after their mother died from COVID-19.

19-year-old Juan Jose Martinez from Palmdale near Los Angeles lost his mother, 43-year-old Brenda Martinez, to the virus in August.


The entire family had tested positive during the same month. However, aside from Juan and Brenda, they were all found to be asymptomatic. At first, Brenda was fine except for a cough, however her condition quickly deteriorated and she died within a week.

Juan Jose Martinez Juan Jose Martinez Juan Jose Martinez/GoFundMe

Brenda, who suffered from diabetes, reportedly took the dangers of the pandemic very seriously, making sure to social distance, wear a mask and wash her hands.

Juan told Fox 11:


Within a couple of days, the symptoms worsened. She started feeling shortness of breath so one morning, we just took action and we called 911.

Sadly, Brenda’s lungs collapsed and her kidney failed, leading her to ultimately succumb to the virus.

Juan continued:

I feel like she’s at peace and she put up a fight, honestly. I was just a big brother and then after my mother passed, I became a father, mother and a big brother at the same time.

Juan Jose MartinezJuan Jose MartinezJuan Jose Martinez/Facebook

Juan has five younger brothers and sisters aged two, seven, eight, nine and 15, However, the two-year-old is now living with his father who was granted custody in September, meaning Juan is only responsible for four of the kids.

The teen is now doing his best to pay bills and to ensure the children are keeping up with their routine doctor and dentist appointments, cooking and cleaning and taking on all the usual jobs of a parent.

Juan said:


At first, it was pretty emotional. There was a lot of screaming and crying but I managed to calm them down and told them everything was going to be fine and I wasn’t going to let anything happen to them.

Speaking about the sacrifices her older brother has made, his 15-year-old sister Jovanna said:

I love how supportive he is and is just doing the best that he can for all of us at the moment. I just love the fact that I can turn around and I can talk to him, just like I would with my mom.

It’s been really hard. It’s different from a woman and a guy to talk to without having my mom to talk to, but at the end of the day, at least I still have an older brother to look up to.

Coronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygieneCoronavirus prevention medical surgical masks, gloves and hand sanitiser gel for hand hygienePA Images

Going forward, Juan is urging others to take the virus seriously, telling NBC News that it is upsetting to see people refusing to adhere to coronavirus safety regulations such as mask wearing and social distancing.

He emphasised that this type of behaviour puts people like his mother, who had an underlying health condition, in particular danger, as they are at a higher risk for serious complications should they contract the virus.

A GoFundMe page for the family has raised over $97,000 at the time of writing. You can donate here.

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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: News, California, COVID-19, teenager


Fox 11 and 1 other
  1. Fox 11

    19-year-old in Palmdale now raising his young siblings after mom dies of COVID-19

  2. NBC News

    Teen who became caretaker to 4 siblings after mother died of Covid-19 urges responsibility