The coronavirus hit bicycle deliveryman Eric Ortiz worse than most — not only making him sick, but also causing the death of his uncle and aunt.
Despite it all, Ortiz, a 28-year-old father and husband from Queens, has been back in the saddle now for two weeks since recovering, delivering food and drink to homebound New Yorkers.
“I feel proud. I still get a lot of thank-yous from a lot of people. They actually have been tipping well,” he told The Post on Friday “That motivates me a lot.”
Ortiz said he feels like he’s been given a second chance since recovering from coronavirus.
“The more I’m out here, I feel more confident about riding around and taking these orders, keeping my mind off all this pandemic going on,” said Ortiz, who works for the Caviar food delivery app. “I feel like I’ve been given another shot.”
“All the family members I’ve lost, while I believe they’re in a better place, I really can’t do anything to bring them back. I just have to move on and keep them in memory.”
Ortiz fell ill during the last week of March, but only realized how sick he was on Friday, March 27. His aunt, a street vendor in her 50s who lived with him and his parents, died from the disease that Sunday.
His uncle, who owned a Mexican restaurant in Woodside, passed away nine days later.
“I didn’t pay much attention to it, then I started getting more harsh symptoms. My back was starting to hurt,” he said. “I never expected that the virus was already in my house.”
Adding to the pain, Ortiz had to cancel a planned trip home to Puebla, Mexico to see his wife and daughter.
The Sunday after his uncle died, Ortiz began to have trouble breathing while watching a television segment featuring his cousin talking about the loss of Ortiz’s uncle. EMTs came and told him he was having an anxiety attack.
“They told me a lot of people are having the same symptoms. That actually motivated me,” he said.
That Friday, he was back on his bike. His mom and dad, who also got sick, have since recovered. Ortiz said he’s reinvigorated, even though he’s making half as many deliveries as before the pandemic.
“There’s this part that I love, that the streets are all empty. Just crazy empty,” he said. “It’s super fun to ride. Those downhills, you ain’t even got to worry about anything. No cars coming to side-swipe you or anything.”
Do you have a nominee for The Post’s Hero of the Day? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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