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Voices of those lost to COVID-19: New book aims to keep legacies alive

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — The U.S. passed a somber milestone with a total of one million lives lost to COVID-19, and the issue hits close to home for the Eyewitness News family.

ABC7 content producer Gina Sirico’s father died after being infected with COVID.

She’s one of the nine million Americans grieving such a terrible loss, but her father’s legacy lives on in a collection of stories celebrating 19 people who succumbed to the virus.

Her dad, Frank Sirico, loved to fish, and like many fishermen, he had quite a fish story.

“When things weren’t going his way on the water, he would put on some music and dance it out,” said Gina Sirico. “Sure enough, shortly after, the fish would hit.”

The story of Frank’s fish dance is the stuff of legend.

Shortly after he died, his friend Joe was on a fishing trip and wasn’t getting any nibbles.

So he took out his phone and played a video of Frank dancing.

“On the next drop, Joe caught a 365-pound swordfish. Never estimate the power of some bad dance moves and an angel watching over you,” said Gina.

Gina lives in Los Angeles, but when her 82-year-old father tested positive for COVID in July 2020, she went back to Florida to give him support, even though it meant camping outside his hospital window.

In the book “Voices-19: Their Legacies Live On,“, she and 18 other family members remind the world of people behind the numbers.

“I don’t know where this is going or the outcome yet. Sorry Gina. Dad was always apologizing, and I always told him not to. It wasn’t his fault that this happened,” Gina said as she read a portion of the book.

“There wasn’t a day that would go by that I didn’t talk to him on the phone. He would laugh at my L.A. traffic situations because that would be our time to talk on the phone.”

Frank’s wife died two years before the pandemic.

Gina and her dad grew even closer. She said her father fought the virus with everything he had.

“He was intubated on August 6th, and he passed on October 19th,” she said.

Without being able to hold a funeral or memorial, Gina struggled.

“COVID grief hits very differently. Everyone is trying to forget what the last two years brought us. I don’t have that luxury,” she said.

With one million lost to this virus, President Joe Biden addressed the American people on Thursday.

“Our heart goes out to all of those who are struggling. Asking themselves, ‘How do I go on without him? How do I go on without her?” Biden said.

Gina Sirico hopes people show a little grace and understanding to those who lost loved ones.

“This virus did not discriminate. It took everybody and it’s still taking people, ” she said.

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