Coronavirus in California: Lottery rep in coma after testing positive, wife pleads for others to get tested

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A California State Lottery representative is in a medically induced coma after testing positive for novel coronavirus. Prior to this happening, he'd expressed concerns over the safety of his going out to stores. And now his wife is pleading for more people to get tested.

UPDATE: California Lottery rep from Bay Area given 1% chance to live shares story to warn others

Rosemary and Mike Arevalo's love story has been 40 plus years in the making.

"We got married in 1980," she said. "We've known each other since sixth grade, so we've known each other a lifetime. We've known each together since we were children."

What's hurting her the most now is that she cannot hold her husband's hand while he fights for his life, alone in a hospital room.

"They were going to treat him because his fever was at 104 and his breathing level was not good," she said. "From there on it was downhill. The morning I got a phone call, they told me they had to induce him to a coma to have his body rest."

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Before testing positive for coronavirus, Mike had been voicing concerns to his union representative about their possible exposure to the virus.

"At one point in early March, Mike even said, 'This is ridiculous, we don't belong in the field. If we get infected we're going to infect all the retailers and all the members of the community. They're going to take it home to their family,'" said Lottery Sales Field Representative & Union Steward Paulina Vasquez.

During a regular work day, California lottery sales representatives frequent grocery stores, liquor stores, and gas stations. According to Vazquez, they can come in contact with at least 100 people per day.

Vazquez said a second sales representative also tested positive for coronavirus this week.

"Devastation, it's heartbreaking," she said. "We saw this coming. This was preventable"

On Monday during the California State Lottery Commission's meeting, Alva Johnson the Lottery Commission Director said: "We've been adapting to this crisis and working 24-7 to address the needs of our team members and our communities. We've implemented a number of changes, sometimes being amongst the first in state agencies to respond."

RELATED: Coronavirus shelter-in-place: Bay Area public health officials add new restrictions on what people can do

Now while Rosemary Arevalo prays for her husband to survive the virus she's also pleading for other sales reps to get tested.

"This is real, this is real, and employers need to know that they need to keep their employees safe," said Arevalo.

The California Lottery released the following statement:

"The California State Lottery (Lottery) has only confirmed one positive case of COVID-19 of an employee.

The Lottery has made items available to all field sales representatives to maximize safety since late last year. These items include disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizer, and gloves. In addition, we have always encouraged employees who are not feeling well to stay home.

On March 2, 2020, the Lottery's Health and Safety team issued guidance to management based on California Department of Human Resources (CalHR) direction regarding COVID-19. As concerns regarding COVID-19 grew, the Lottery's executive management provided guidance on telework and encouraged all eligible employees to participate.

All supervisors and managers were directed to be flexible in approving leave requests and to encourage sick employees to stay home for their own protection, as well as the protection of the community. Our field sales staff have not serviced retailers in person since March 18, 2020."


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