Remembering Claudia Bertaud: Preschool teacher dies from COVID-19 complications


AUSTIN (KXAN) — Claudia Bertaud was always ready to dance.

“Anytime anyone would play music she would just start dancing, she loved it so much,” Linda Vasquez, her daughter, explained. “She loved dancing, that was her favorite thing. Everyone always remembered her by her dancing.”

The 48-year-old really enjoyed dancing to norteñas, especially if the playlist included songs from her favorite band, La Maquinaria Nortena. It’s those memories Vasquez holds on to after Bertaud passed away from COVID-19 complications at the end of July.

“Unfortunately her body wasn’t strong enough to fight off the virus and it completely took over her whole body,” Vasquez said.

The Spanish immersion preschool teacher at INIC Preschool in south Austin stopped going to work early last month after she developed a cough. Soon, Bertaud began to experience a loss of appetite, sleepless nights and shortness of breath.

“Her symptoms seemed mild but they quickly escalated,” she said.

Vasquez said she believes her mother’s Rheumatoid arthritis may have played a role.

Bertaud waited 12 days before going to an area hospital in south Austin. The family said because Bertaud needed a ventilator, and the hospital did not have any available, she was transferred to a hospital in Lakeway. After that, she was airlifted and transferred to a hospital in Temple.

Bertaud was placed in a medically-induced coma. Vasquez said the doctors told her family the lack of oxygen caused severe damage to Bertaud’s brain, and that meant she may never wake up on her own again.

“She always had said, ‘I don’t want to live my life like that if it should go that way,’ and unfortunately it went that way,” she said.

Vasquez believes her mom got the virus from her family.

“I’ve noticed with us Hispanics, ‘Oh, it’s nothing, it’s just a cough, I’m not sick.’ It’s like they don’t believe it,” she said.

For Vasquez, sadly, her last conversation with her mom was about COVID-19 that turned into an argument.

“I am sad we ended on bad terms,” Vasquez said holding back tears. “I wish I could dance with you at least one more time. I miss her a lot.”

Five days before Bertaud passed away, Vasquez said the family received a call from the hospital to let the family know the hospital bill was $14,000. Vasquez believes the final bill will be higher.

A GoFundMe fundraiser helped generate over $25,000 as of Wednesday morning. The family also has to pay for the funeral, but the family isn’t sure when that will be. If there is any extra money, they will use it to create a college fund for Bertaud’s youngest daughter who is 11 years old.

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