By Andrea Nakano

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX) — There is an alarming statistic when it comes to COVID-19 death among nurses. Nearly a third of those who have died are of Filipino descent.

Sixty-three-year-old Francis Dadis worked as a nurse at a rehab facility in San Rafael. His family says he loved his work but it believes that is where he came in contact with the deadly virus. His niece Olivia recalls a conversation with her uncle.

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“He said you know what, I don’t believe in COVID because I don’t have any symptoms. I said you coughed a little bit and he said, Olivia it’s just a cough.”

Francis may not have had severe symptoms but his niece says he tested positive for coronavirus on September 10. Two days later, he passed away. Olivia was stunned when her mother called with the news.

“Did you not hear me. He’s dead. I said ‘what the heck are you taking about?’” says Olivia.

According to National Nurses United, Filipino nurses only make up 4 percent of the nursing population nationwide but account for nearly a third of coronavirus deaths.

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“It’s a sad reality and it is shocking and at the same time I ask myself what’s happening,” said President-Elect Igor Mocorro, DNP, with the Philippines Nurses Association of Northern California.

Mocorro believes the lack of self-care plays a role in the deaths and is hoping raising awareness about this will help to save lives.

“I’m not surprised to see a lot of Filipino nurses are highly affected but at the same time I feel we can change this,” adds Mocorro.

Olivia is a nurse herself and her job is to test patients for COVID. Her uncle’s death has mentally taken a toll on her and her wish is that people understand how dangerous this virus can be. Olivia sums it up,

“People are saying it’s just the flu and I say no, it can kill you. It can kill you.”

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Mocorro says in the Bay Area, roughly 30 percent of the nurses are Filipino. According to the California Nurses Association, of the 17 nurses that have died in this state, nearly 70 percent were of Filipino descent.