Widow, friends remember Southern California man who died of COVID-19

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Thousands have lost their lives to COVID-19 -- mothers, friends, husbands.

Maria Isabel said she had a good life with Jose Valero. They welcomed a newborn eight months ago.

Valero died of COVID-19 on Sunday.

She says he was extremely careful. They only ate at home and he took safety measures while working at a produce market. ABC7 stopped by two months ago as they struggled to stay afloat.

Pedro Astorga was Valero's longtime boss and friend.

"He was not only my right hand man, he was my friend. We spent six days a week, about 10 hours every day. What can you say about a guy who was with you through thick and thin," Valero says.

Valero was 35 and pre-diabetic.

Astorga and Valero's widow and children have all tested positive for COVID-19.

"I believe that especially markets are a real hot spot. It's about over 30 cases they're going on right now," Astorga said.

Astorga believes property management at the 7th Street Produce Market did not do enough to enforce health officer orders. He says Valero would ask customers to wear a face covering.

A spokesperson for the landlord, Row DTLA, says security guards do wear their masks at all times and are there to ensure measures are followed. Valero's wife says she remembers her husband telling her otherwise.

Astorga set up a GoFundMe account for Isabel who has three children and a part-time job she can't return to for now.

Maria says it's difficult to think about what she's going through and what's to come, urging people to follow guidelines to protect themselves and others.

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