By Renee Santos

MODESTO (CBS13) – There’s a growing COVID-19 outbreak at El Rio Memory Care Community in Modesto where 26 residents and 14 staff members tested positive – and four residents have died.

“I saw him when he exited the ambulance. I waved to him, he flashed me a peace sign,” said Barbara Vierra whose ex-husband, a resident at the facility, died.

She shared photos of her ex-husband 78-year-old Siegfried Kessler a Vietnam Veteran who liked to go by Zeke.

One photo shows Zeke holding up a peace sign as he was being admitted into the hospital due to COVID-19 complications on June 17.

Barbara never knew that would be the last time she would see him alive.

“He passed away at 10:33 yesterday June 24,” she said.

Zeke died after testing positive while living at the El Rio Memory Care Community.

“I’m worried about the rest of the people that are there,” she expressed.

In an email sent to the facility, El Rio states there are daily temperature checks and health screenings and says the facility is following health department and CDC guidelines.

The California Department of Social Services Website shows the facility its license in 2017 and since then, 3 complaints have been investigated by the state. The most recent incident was in November of last year.

Dr. Charlene Harrington is a nursing professor at the University of California, San Francisco.

“I think what we need what we need is some very strict penalties and levy against these homes. I don’t think it’s going to stop until this happens,” she said.

Barbara never got the chance to say goodbye to Zeke in person.

“I had them put the phone next to his ear I talked to him and let him know that he is loved,” she said.

She hopes other families speak up as soon as they notice something isn’t right.

“I don’t know if that would have made a difference but this man suffered. I’m in pain and sorrow and we’ve lost a good person,” she said.

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