Madison East High School junior Isai Morocho died during the Thanksgiving break after a “brief, COVID-related illness,” according to an email to students and families from principal Brendan Kearney.
Madison365 initially did not name Morocho publicly, but his family has since given permission.
In a live video interview with MiWisconsin Latinos, Morocho’s father Milton Morocho said Isai didn’t have typical COVID symptoms like shortness of breath, fever or cough, and in fact tested negative for COVID when taken to Dean Clinic with digestive symptoms on Wednesday. By Friday, he hadn’t improved, so they took him back to the clinic.
“When the doctors examined him his lungs were clear, his heart was beating good, he had no arrhythmia,” Milton Morocho said, in Spanish. Later, when Isai collapsed, Milton attempted CPR but his son was pronounced dead at the hospital.
“My son did not have any issue of the heart, no other sickness before this. So, they had to examine him as it was the sudden death of a young and healthy person. When they did the second test or the definitive test for the investigation, they learned it was due to covid pneumonia and he was positive for Covid,” Milton said.
He said he doesn’t know where his son could have gotten the virus, but wants people to take care of themselves and each other.
“I want to say from the bottom of my heart that this virus is new, and it is difficult to trace and the symptoms are changing,” he said. “Please, beautiful people. If your children are having a symptom, maybe they are young and will be fine. But dearest people, don’t give in just like that. If you take them in once even though the doctors say, ‘Look, their test is negative,’ have them take it again … That would be my advice. And nurture yourself better, eat well. Go out walking in the park, get some sun. Don’t be scared. Let us not be scared. Let’s follow the rules. To think of the near and dear people we love. If restrictions are for us to use a mask when we are in groups, we should care for each other. That is all I can and would love to pass on to all of you.”
A GoFundMe campaign has been started to help his family with funeral expenses.
Morocho’s father Milton Morocho gave an interview to MiWisconsin Latinos, but the family has asked for privacy going forward.
“All of MMSD is heartbroken to learn of the passing of an East High School student due to COVID-19 related causes,” wrote Madison Metropolitan School District spokesman Timothy LeMonds in an email to Madison365. “Our community has lost a wonderful young person, and when a school family experiences a tragedy, especially the loss of a young life, it deeply impacts all of us. In the days ahead, MMSD will be focused on providing our students, families and staff the support needed in order to help them process this tremendous loss.”
LeMonds said Morocho’s family urged the district to be clear that he had died of COVID “to raise awareness for other MMSD students to the seriousness of the virus.”
Kearney wrote that Morocho was “a caring friend and family member with a ready smile and a great sense of humor,” and also “an excellent student who enjoyed theatre and had talked of becoming a chef.”
In an email to Madison365 Sunday evening, former East principal Mike Hernandez called the student a “sweet young man.”
“I am heartbroken for his family, for the East community and for all the families that have been affected by Covid,” Hernandez said.
Madison East has set aside time for student support via Zoom on Monday from 12-1 and 3-4 pm, and Tuesday from 12-1.
This story has been update to include a comment from MMSD, the student’s identity, quotes from his father and a link to a fundraiser in his memory.