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Remembering Juan: Niece of Dakota City, NE Tyson worker speaks out after his death due to COVID-19

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Juan Manuel Juarez Picture
Juan Manuel Juarez with his family
Juan Manuel Juarez Photo
Juan Manuel Juarez with his family
Juan Manuel Juarez Family
Juan Manuel Juarez with his family
Juan Manuel Juarez Family Photo
Juan Manuel Juarez with his family
Juan Juarez Family
Juan Manuel Juarez with his family

SIOUX CITY (KTIV) -- The family of a Dakota City, NE Tyson worker is mourning his loss. They told KTIV 63-year-old Juan Manuel Juarez died Monday from COVID-19.

"That smile," said Stephanie Sedano. "It's imprinted in me. It's everywhere I look, I just see that smile."

Cheerful, cracking jokes, and hard working. That's how Stephanie Sedano describes her uncle Juan Manuel Juarez.

"Any accomplishment we ever did, he was always right there, cheering us on," said Sedano. "He saw us as his kids."

Originally from Los Reyes Michoacán, Mexico, Juan came to the United States about 30 years ago. He spent 24 of those years as a worker for the Tyson Foods plant in Dakota City, Nebraska.

"Hard working man, did overtime when it was available," said Sedano.

At the age of 63, Juan was planning to retire this year. But, on April 24th, he tested positive for COVID-19.

Stephanie said at first they were hopeful because Juan had milder symptoms, and no underlying health conditions, besides his age.

"We see it on the news," said Sedano. "There is a turn around rate for this. You know you're going to be OK. You're going to pull through."

But, Juan didn't get better.

Stephanie said she continued to see her uncle's health deteriorate. He was admitted to the hospital on the 26th and came back home on the 29th, still having difficulty breathing.

Monday, Stephanie said she and her brother found him unresponsive.

"He tried so hard when we found him passed out in the bathroom, my brother tried so hard," said Sedano. "The chest compressions they were telling us to do over the phone. No one should ever find a relative like that. I'm just so angry and upset at the world."

She said she thinks of all things he will miss out on…

"He's not going to watch my sister's baby girl grow up," said Sedano. "He's not going to be able to watch me get married. So it's definitely very emotional."

But, Stephanie said she knows Juan will always be with them in spirit.

"He's going to be there and he is going to be nodding his head yeah, like he always would," said Sedano.

Stephanie said right now they are working on preparing funeral arrangements for Juan.

Michaela Feldmann

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