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Daughter blasts politicians for father's COVID-19 death in obit

After Kristin Urquiza’s father died following a three-week battle with the coronavirus, she penned a scathing obituary casting blame for her father’s death on politicians for their “carelessness” during the pandemic. Urquiza told CBSN on Tuesday that her father’s death was “completely preventable.” 

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Mark Anthony Urquiza died on June 30 at the age of 65. The obituary, which was printed about a week later in the Arizona Republic, remembered the man known as “Black Jack” to his friends as being the “life of the party.” It also pinned responsibility for his death squarely on the hands of public officials. 

“Mark, like so many others, should not have died from COVID-19,” Urquiza wrote.”His death is due to the carelessness of the politicians who continue to jeopardize the health of brown bodies through a clear lack of leadership, refusal to acknowledge the severity of this crisis, and inability and unwillingness to give clear and decisive direction on how to minimize risk.”

In a Tuesday interview with CBSN’s Tanya Rivero, Urquiza explained her father was just listening to directives from Arizona Governor Doug Ducey and President Trump. She pointed to comments specifically made by Ducey in May and June, after he ended the state’s stay-at-home order

“My dad was a healthy 65-year-old man who was taking cues from the Ducey administration and the Trump administration about what was safe,” she told CBSN. “As late as early June and in late May, Governor Ducey is on record to say, ‘If you don’t have any underlying health conditions it is safe to go out.’ Even when I was telling my dad, ‘it’s actually not [safe].’ He would say to me, ‘Kristin, well, then why would the governor say it is safe?’ My interpretation of that is that my dad was just listening to what was being told to him was safe and what’s not safe.”

“That is why I am upset. Not only because I lost my dad, but because it was completely preventable,” she added. 

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The fiery obit did garner a response from Ducey’s office.  

Patrick Ptak, the governor’s director of communications, said in statement: “Our hearts go out to the family and loved ones of Mark Anthony Urquiza. We know nothing can fully alleviate the pain associated with his loss, and every loss from the virus is tragic.” 

“I don’t need your heart, I need your action,” Urquiza told CBSN in response. She also sent the governor a letter inviting him to her father’s funeral, but she did not receive a response.

“His policies and leadership definitely communicated that he had a complete disregard for people’s lives,” she said. “I wanted him to see up front, up close and carefully what it means to be grieving at the time of coronavirus. What it means to have a lost loved one.” 

Urquiza said she also wanted to personally show Ducey that it was possible to make sure people take necessary precautions to protect themselves from being infected, even at a funeral.

“I actually live in California,” she said. “My mom, she’s in Arizona. I couldn’t even hug my mother at my own father’s funeral. And if I can run a safe funeral, Governor Ducey can run a safe state.”

There are more than 128,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Arizona and over 2,300 people have died, according to data collected by Johns Hopkins University. Urquiza said her father and countless others would “very likely” still be around if face-mask mandates weren’t up to local municipalities.

“The state is in a crisis situation,” she said. “People are dying because of terrible leadership.”

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