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Miami Nurse Dies Of Coronavirus

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

More than 45,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S., among them health care workers serving on the front lines of the pandemic like 63-year-old nurse Araceli Buendia Ilagan.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Ilagan spent almost 33 years - the majority of her life - working for Jackson Health in the Miami area.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MARTHA BAKER: She was one of those hands-on assistant nurse managers who would not let you work by yourself. She was probably going in and out of every single room in that 20-bed ICU every day despite the risk of COVID.

KELLY: Martha Baker is a nurse who knew Ilagan. She spoke to CBS Miami.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

BAKER: You know, not only is she a good friend of mine and a good friend of many - she's our first. She's our first to fall.

CHANG: Ilagan was born in the Philippines. In her 20s, she moved to the U.S. to work as a nurse. She was one of seven nurses in her family, according to The New York Times.

KELLY: Her niece, 27-year-old Jhoanna Buendia, is an ICU nurse in England.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JHOANNA BUENDIA: To be honest, I'm terrified for my life.

CHANG: That's Buendia talking to ABC News.

KELLY: She says her aunt was a mother figure. Ilagan encouraged her to go into nursing, helped pay for her education. She says it has been hard to return to work after her aunt's death, but she's doing it anyway. That's what nurses do.

CHANG: Araceli Buendia Ilagan died on March 27. She was 63 years old.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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