SALT LAKE CITY — A beloved activist in Utah’s Pacific Islander community lost her battle with COVID-19.
Margarita Satini died Tuesday morning. She tested positive for the virus less than two weeks ago.
“There’s a big hole in the community right now,” said Verona Mauga, a longtime friend of Satini. “She was loved by so many because she served so many.”
Mauga and Satini worked together on several community projects. She remembers Satini as someone who stood up and used her voice for everyone.
“She was someone who fought for equality and equity for all,” Mauga said.
Recently, Satini encouraged other Pacific Islanders to get tested for COVID-19 through the Wellness Bus. She recognized the severity and dangers of the virus.
According to statistics from the Utah Department of Health, Utah's Pacific Islander community has the highest COVID-19 case rate. It is more than double the statewide case rate.
“As hard as she tried to not get it — and I don’t know anyone who tried harder than Margarita to protect herself and just be super cautious — but, she did get it,” Mauga said. “COVID isn’t a joke. There is so much for us to learn from this. It’s still so new. We don’t know what we need to know about it. I wish everyone would be careful and cautious.”
Satini’s death has shaken Utah’s political community.
”Margarita Satini was a force for her Pacific Islander community, and for underrepresented, under-served communities across our state," a joint statement composed by Utah’s racial and ethnic minority legislators including Sen. Luz Escamilla, Sen. Jani Iwamoto, Rep. Angela Romero, Rep. Karen Kwan, Rep. Mark Wheatley and Rep. Sandra Hollins said. "How many more good people will we have to lose before all Utahns take this public health crisis seriously?”
Gov. Gary Herbert also offered his condolences.
"To say she was dedicated is an understatement — she gave and gave with everything she had. Our prayers and thoughts are with all who mourn her loss tonight," he said in a statement.
A socially-distanced candlelight vigil honoring Satini is scheduled to take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday outside the Utah State Capitol.
A fundraising effort has been set up to help her family in the months ahead.