The searing tribute encapsulates the fury of critics who say governments at multiple levels are failing at their most basic duty: keeping citizens safe. The obituary also nods at the outbreak’s disproportionate impact on black and Hispanic communities, which have experienced higher rates of coronavirus-related hospitalization and death.
Among the leaders whom Kristin Urquiza feels failed her father, a Mexican American resident of Phoenix who worked in manufacturing, are Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and the Trump administration. Ducey, she said, “has blood on his hands” for beginning to reopen the state in early May, roughly three weeks before new infections started to rise quickly.
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for Ducey, said in a statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mark Anthony Urquiza. We know nothing can fully alleviate the pain associated with his loss, and every loss from this virus is tragic.”
A spokesperson for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Mark Urquiza rarely left the house while Arizona’s stay-at-home order was in place except to do his job, which was deemed essential, his daughter said. He started to go out with friends after Ducey and Trump said people could safely resume their normal lives, even as his daughter begged him to stay home.
Kristin Urquiza remembers that as the state continued to reopen, her father told her the governor was encouraging residents to go out in public again. Mark Urquiza asked his daughter: Why would he do that if it was still dangerous?
“Despite all of the effort that I had made to try to keep my parents safe, I couldn’t compete with the governor’s office and I couldn’t compete with the Trump administration,” Kristin Urquiza said.
Inspired by the famous AIDS quilt meant to humanize victims, Kristin Urquiza wrote to Ducey, asking him to attend her father’s funeral to see a result of what she called his “inaction and active denial” of the pandemic’s effects. Ducey’s office, she said, did not reply.
Ptak declined to say whether the governor received the request and whether anyone from his office responded.
About three weeks after Arizona’s stay-at-home order expired, Mark Urquiza developed a cough and a high fever, according to his daughter. His family arranged for him to take a coronavirus test the next day, but Kristin Urquiza said he never received the result.
By June 16, Mark Urquiza felt sick enough that he asked to go to a hospital. There, his daughter said, he tested positive for the virus.
Kristin Urquiza said she struggled to get news about her father’s condition from his doctors and nurses, who were stretched thin by a surge of patients. Sometimes, she said, her family spent hours on the phone with hospital employees, trying desperately to get information.
Mark Urquiza died on June 30, four days after entering the intensive care unit. His family never determined how he became infected. A GoFundMe page raised money for his funeral.
Kristin Urquiza said that since her father’s death, she has felt like a storm is forming inside her body, preparing to bear down on the desert of her home state. She started an ofrenda, a traditional Mexican display to honor the dead, for her father outside the state capitol. When it was time to write his obituary, Kristin Urquiza said, “there was no question in my mind that I wouldn’t just say the truth.”
She has also channeled her rage into a social media campaign called “Marked by Covid,” which uses a play on her father’s name to spread information about covid-19 in hopes of sparing other families similar suffering. She said the Trump administration should create an enforceable federal mask requirement and stop minimizing the advice of its health experts.
The nation’s leaders, Kristin Urquiza said, have failed to lead.
“This entire tragedy is the fault of a terrible policy,” she said, “and on top of that, inconsistent and embarrassing leadership.”