Lincoln County's first COVID-19 death

Celerino Gámez Galicia

After the Oregon Health Authority announced Lincoln County’s first COVID-19 death on Monday — a man with no known underlying health conditions who tested positive on June 17, the day after his death — the family of Celerino Gámez Galicia confirmed the 68-year-old died of the virus at his residence on June 16.

Through translator Angel Torres, Hispanic ministries pastor at Newport First Baptist Church, his niece Sandra Hernandez told the News-Times Galicia loved baseball and canción ranchera music. He was from Puebla, Mexico and first came to Oregon in the 1980s. His wife still lives in Puebla, and he lived with his two adult children in Newport. Hernandez’s uncle worked in seafood processing, but she was not sure for which company, Torres said.

Galicia was born Feb. 2, 1952. He was a permanent resident and “becoming an American citizen was one of this dreams," Hernandez relayed through Torres.

Hernandez, who lives in Chula Vista, Calif., said she wanted to come to be with her cousins after their father’s death, but “because of the condition of the family,” she was advised she could not. Lincoln County Public Health Director Rebecca Austen told county commissioners on Monday that the county’s first COVID-19 fatality had occurred in a household where three members tested positive.

Mindful of the family’s quarantine status, the Hispanic ministries pastor said he and the congregation were regularly reaching out to them to help ensure their basic needs are met. A friend started a Gofundme page on their behalf to raise money for final arrangements.

Torres told the News-Times Hernandez and her family wanted to hold a funeral service but “they were told it would not be possible because of coronavirus, and so the family is hurting because of that.” She said her uncle was a man of faith and “had accepted Jesus Christ into his heart.”

According to the health authority, Galicia was the state’s 191st COVID-19 death. The authority also reported Oregon’s 192nd death from the virus on Monday, a 90-year-old Marion County woman. Additional information about that death is still pending.