Israel was just 40 years old when he died from COVID-19 on March 26, 2020.
According to Medical Examiner records and Israel’s husband, Christian Lopez, Israel had felt sick for weeks. He tried to avoid going to the hospital, until he started having difficulty breathing.
His symptoms were reported as fever, cough, body aches and respiratory distress. Though he was HIV positive, he was an otherwise healthy, young and energetic man.
Lopez spoke in grief about his late husband with Brian Entin the day after Israel died.
One article, posted on March 28, reported that Israel was the first Miami Coronavirus death. However, there were five deaths from COVID-19 in the city before Israel’s — but his was the first to receive positive results, so at the time he seemed to be the first.
Back then, testing was largely restricted to the elderly, those who had recently traveled, and those with pre-existing conditions.
CDC guidance for prioritizing testing in March listed persons in long-term care care facilities, elderly, healthcare workers and first responders, and those with “diabetes, heart disease, receiving immunosuppressive medications, chronic lung disease, chronic kidney disease.”
Israel worked as a radiologist when he met his husband, and both came to America before restrictions on immigration policies went into effect two years ago.
He still has family in Cuba, who Lopez said he cared deeply for and checked on often. He asked his family not to start a fundraising account for him.