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Facilities worker dies from COVID-19

A Brandeis facilities worker, Sergio Aguilar, passed away from the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on March 28 at age 61. 

“[Aguilar] was a valued Facilities team member for 25 years,” Joseph Realejo, Aguilar’s supervisor and director of facilities, wrote to The Brandeis Hoot in an email on May 8. Aguilar started his custodial position at Brandeis in 1995, as reported by an article in The Boston Globe dedicated to remembering victims of COVID-19

Others described Aguilar as a warm, funny and kind man, according to a GoFundMe fundraiser created by his daughter to contribute funds towards funeral services and to support his wife. No further information was provided about his staff role at Brandeis as Realejo told The Hoot that the university would not be speaking with anyone outside of Aguilar’s family about his passing. 

On the GoFundMe fundraiser, Aguilar’s daughter said that his health condition quickly became “critical.”

“We had hoped he would slowly recover, but COVID-19 had already done so much damage, and eventually, everything began to shut down,” she wrote. 

Both Realejo and Lois Stanley, the vice president for campus operations, have confirmed Aguilar’s death through emails to The Hoot on April 6 and May 8 respectively.

As of May 28, 13 community members have tested positive for COVID-19, including students and staff members, according to the university’s Health Information Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. The number consists of people who were on campus within two days of symptoms starting. 

Brandeis did not share Aguilar’s death with the community “out of respect for the privacy of families impacted by COVID,” wrote Stanley in a May 8 email to The Hoot. On the university’s Health Information FAQ page, the university also encourages community members not to speculate who might have COVID-19 or where they have been on campus as “this sort of speculation is unlikely to be actionable or helpful.” 

Brandeis won’t identify community members who have tested positive, according to the page.

As of May 20, one of the 13 individuals is currently self-isolating due to a positive test result. Stanley told The Hoot in the email that “there have been 2 COVID positive cases among the dining services staff, and both have recovered.” No further COVID-19 related deaths have been reported as of print time.

“Throughout the crisis, Brandeis has followed the CDC guidelines for safety measures,” wrote Stanley in the May 8 email to The Hoot. “Personal protective equipment—masks, gloves, goggles, and even coveralls—is available to all essential staff who are working on campus. Additionally, measures like social distancing, frequent handwashing, and avoiding touching one’s face have long been in place among the essential staff who work on campus.”

Brandeis has worked with community members being tested to determine their last day on campus and implement contact tracing, according to the university’s Health Information Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page. The Health Center policy states that its staff members will reach out to the close contacts of persons identified as having the virus and ask them to self-quarantine. 

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