“We are profoundly saddened to learn about Juan’s untimely death during this pandemic,” Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims said in a statement.
“This young man had a remarkable spirit and was greatly loved. I know our entire campus community sends our deepest condolences to his family and friends as they grieve this unthinkable loss. It is a poignant reminder that no one among us is immune to the worst consequences of this virus.”
The news comes as universities nationwide are grappling with plans to reopen safely in the fall while coronavirus cases across the US currently rising sharply. Penn State has announced students will be allowed to return.
Garcia, from Allentown, Pennsylvania, belonged to the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences and is the first coronavirus-related student death, the university said in a statement.
He lived off campus but near the university and went back home when he began feeling unwell, the university said. He was tested for the virus on June 20 and died 10 days later.
Penn State is now contact tracing anyone who may have been around Garcia while he was sick.
“As we mourn the loss of Juan and offer support to his family and friends, I hope we all also will honor his memory by taking every precaution to help slow the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and others safe and healthy,” Dr. Robin Oliver-Veronesi, the senior director of University Health Services.
“While each of our risk levels are different, this virus has shown that it can have devastating effects on even those who are younger.’
Last month, Penn State announced students, faculty and staff would return to campus in the fall for classes and activities in “a limited fashion.”
Both students and employees will return to campus in phases, the university said, and there will be health measures in place “including mask-wearing and social distancing.”
There will also be a testing and contact-tracing program in place and Penn State said it will hire additional employees to assist all campuses.
“The University also is building capacity to isolate and quarantine impacted individuals, including support for isolated persons, to facilitate proper medical care,” it said.