Penn State student dies of COVID-19 complications in Allentown

July 02, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has learned through family and friends that Juan Garcia, a 21-year-old College of Earth and Mineral Sciences student from Allentown, died June 30 of respiratory failure and COVID-19. His death is the first known Penn State student death related to the coronavirus.

“We are profoundly saddened to learn about Juan’s untimely death during this pandemic,” said Vice President for Student Affairs Damon Sims. “While I did not know Juan personally, we have learned through conversations with those closest to him that this young man had a remarkable spirit and was greatly loved. I know our entire campus community sends our deepest condolences to his family and friends as they grieve this unthinkable loss. It is a poignant reminder that no one among us is immune to the worst consequences of this virus.”

Garcia was living off campus in State College when he began to feel ill. He traveled home to Allentown on June 19 and was tested for COVID-19 on June 20. The University is in the process of contact tracing to reach those who may have been in close contact with Garcia while he was contagious. Individuals who believe they may have been in contact with Garcia are urged to call the University Health Services 24/7 Advice Nurse at 814-863-4463.

The University is in touch with Garcia’s family and is offering support. His family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page to help cover funeral expenses. To make a contribution, visit

“We have lost one of our own. This tragic news brings the coronavirus pandemic much closer to home for all of us at Penn State,” said Dr. Robin Oliver-Veronesi, UHS senior director. “As we mourn the loss of Juan and offer support to his family and friends, I hope we all also will honor his memory by taking every precaution to help slow the spread of the virus and keep ourselves and others safe and healthy. While each of our risk levels are different, this virus has shown that it can have devastating effects on even those who are younger.”

Individuals who feel ill with COVID-19 symptoms should immediately call a health care provider and begin to self-isolate, Oliver-Veronesi said. Students with symptoms and those who test positive for COVID-19 should contact UHS or their campus nurse to assist with any self-care needs and to aid with contact tracing efforts.

For the latest updates and information on Penn State’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, including an extensive FAQ and information specific for students, faculty and staff, visit

Last Updated September 22, 2020