DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- The family of Aurea Soto Morales visits a memorial tree planted in her honor in front of Creekside Elementary in Durham twice a week. Aurea was only 8 years old when she died from COVID-19 complications in June.
Aurea is one of more than 10,000 North Carolinians with the novel coronavirus who have died.
"I never wish anything like this to happen, because as we've seen, the community has been ravaged by this virus, and we've seen how it's impacted tons of people," said her sister Jennifer Morales, 18. "We know those deaths were someone's sons, daughters, children, their parents, grandparents. They were part of someone's family."
Aurea Morales was known as "Yoshi" because of her middle name, "Yolotzin."
"It's very difficult," her mom, Araceli Morales Martinez said. "It's as if it were yesterday."
Her family is reminding everybody to keep wearing their masks, maintain social distancing and wash their hands to try to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.
"Even if there's hope with vaccinations and double masking and everything, we still have to take precautions because you know what, we never know what would happen," Jennifer Morales said. "I mean, take a look at what happened to Yoshi. She was a healthy 8-year-old. She would have been 9 this January 20."
Aurea was the first child in North Carolina whose death was linked to COVID-19.
Martinez said many people think children don't get the novel coronavirus.
"This is not a game," she said. "This is real."
Durham child among the more than 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in NC