Pacific Islander activist dies of COVID-19

Advocate for more COVID-19 testing dies from coronavirus

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Margarita Satini, an activist in Utah’s Pacific Islander community, died of complications from COVID-19 this week, only eight days after testing positive, reports ABC 4.

“There’s a big hole in the community right now,” Verona Mauga, a friend of Satini, said to Fox 13. “She was loved by so many because she served so many.”

Satini was constantly involved in community activism and advocacy, speaking out about the importance of representation in the Census last May. More recently, she turned her attention to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts on Pacific Islanders.

Jake Fitisemanu Jr., a representative of the Utah Pacific Islander Health Coalition, says Satini was looking to fight health inequities during COVID-19. She recently received a Communities of COVID Partnership grant to help her community get more COVID-19 testing.

“As hard as she tried to not get it — and I don’t know anyone who tried harder than Margarita to protect herself and just be super cautious — but, she did get it,” Mauga said. “COVID isn’t a joke. There is so much for us to learn from this. It’s still so new. We don’t know what we need to know about it. I wish everyone would be careful and cautious.”

Utah governor Gary Herbert also offered condolences for Satini’s death.

“I was deeply saddened to hear that Margarita Satini died today from COVID-19 complications,” he said in a statement. “She was a passionate advocate for her community. To say she was dedicated is an understatement — she gave and gave with everything she had. Our prayers and thoughts are with all who mourn her loss tonight.“

Utah’s racial and ethnic minority legislators, including Sen. Luz Escamilla, Sen. Jani Iwamoto, Rep. Angela Romero, Rep. Karen Kwan, Rep. Mark Wheatley, and Rep. Sandra Hollins, also issued a statement on Satini’s death.

“During the past many months, Margarita led as a community health worker to steer the COVID Community Partnership to educate and care for marginalized communities disproportionately hurt by the pandemic.”

“Losing Margarita should remind us all, again, how real and dangerous this pandemic is,” they added. “How many more good people will we have to lose before all Utahns take this public health crisis seriously?”

A candlelight vigil was held for Satini outside the Utah State Capitol Wednesday night.

Community members also set up a GoFundMe page to raise money to help Satini’s family, who have also all tested positive for COVID-19.

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