Vigil For Arizona Coronavirus Victim Aimed At Gov. Doug Ducey
A vigil at the Arizona Capitol for a 65-year-old Maryvale man who died from COVID-19 was intended to grab one person’s attention: Gov. Doug Ducey.
Mark “Black Jack” Urquiza was a beloved member of the Maryvale community, according to his daughter, Kristin Urquiza. And he was in otherwise good health before he started experiencing coronavirus symptoms, a high fever and cough, on June 11.
On Facebook, Mark’s family wrote he believed it was safe to resume normal activity because the governor let his stay-at-home order end on May 15.
In a letter to Ducey, Kristin wrote that her father contracted the virus “during the period you forbade local governments from implementing their own safety measures, such as mandating the wearing of masks.”
Mark was transferred to the ICU on June 26 and put on a ventilator. He died on June 30.
“Despite having a huge family and many friends he died alone with an ICU nurse holding his hand,” Kristin wrote to Ducey.
Kristin said she decided to hold the vigil at the Capitol to draw attention to her hometown of Maryvale, a “mostly immigrant, mostly community-of-color neighborhood which is disproportionately seeing the impacts of this crisis.”
For that, she blames Ducey.
“There's people that are dying due to poor leadership and terrible policy that he is standing up beside. And it just felt to me that he needed to see firsthand what a grieving family looked like; a family that is grieving underneath his watch,” Kristin said at the vigil. “My father, he should not have died. This was — he was robbed. And we were robbed and our community has been robbed.”
Kristin sent her letter to Ducey on July 6, inviting him to Mark’s funeral.
Mark was buried early Wednesday afternoon. It was a painful ceremony for his family, Kristin said. Only immediate family members were allowed to attend to ensure everyone's safety.
“I haven’t even been able to hug my mother,” Kristin said.
Ducey and his staff never responded to the invitation, she said.
Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak told KJZZ that "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."
In her letter, Kristin accused Ducey of viewing her father and other Arizonans who’ve died from the coronavirus as nothing more than a statistic.
“Your inaction and active denial of the devastation COVID-19 is causing has made it clear that the people dying, and their families left behind are just numbers to you,” Kristin wrote. “My father was anything but a number; his life mattered.”