Rocco Deserto used to spend at least three days a week at his mom’s house to keep her company. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native lost his dad in 2019 to pulmonary fibrosis and he became a self-proclaimed “momma’s boy.” When the coronavirus pandemic picked up steam in mid-March and someone at his mom’s job had symptoms, Deserto begged her to stay home. But she refused. About three weeks after Gaetana Deserto told him a co-worker came to work with COVID-19 symptoms, she succumbed to the virus.
ROCCO DESERTO: My name is Rocco Deserto, and I lost my mom to COVID-19 on April 6, 2020. I'm a natural mama's boy, so my mom was everything to me. I lost my dad in February 2019 to pulmonary fibrosis. So I would spend every-- at least three days a week at my mom's house to keep her company, because she was lonely. And I wasn't able to be there when she actually needed me the most.
My mom caught COVID at her job. Someone came in with symptoms, didn't stay home, and my mom got it. And every day I would ask my mom, because I was counting down the 14 days, are you OK? And she kept on telling me, I'm OK, I'm OK, I'm OK, until one day when I called her and she was incoherent. She couldn't speak, and she was out of breath.
And I called 9-1-1 from my home up here on her. And at that, I just-- I couldn't be with her. Being the mama's boy that I am, I always want take care of my mom. I always watched out for her. I always [? wanted ?] to do everything I could for her, and I couldn't do anything at this point.
Literally, I can't even put into words how much she meant to me, because she was literally everything. She couldn't get all the flowers that she deserved. She couldn't get the funeral that she deserved. It was just five of us in a room with her and no one else allowed, and we all had masks on. She didn't deserve to go out like that.
So I don't know what I would say to my mom. I just wish she would have listened to me. And I just wish people would have been smarter about like, preventing this, because my mom is one of those cases that 100% could have been prevented.