Wilber Portillo's family called the death "an unexpected loss for all of us."

By Gabrielle Chung
January 19, 2021
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Wilber Portillo
Wilber Portillo
| Credit: gofundme

An 18-year-old from Denver has died after contracting the novel coronavirus for the second time, according to family and friends.

Wilber Portillo on Nov. 19 during his second bout with COVID-19, his girlfriend Andrea Ferrel told KDVR.

"He was just getting better. He had about a week of COVID-free before getting sick again," Ferrel said.

Portillo, a CEC Early College graduate who launched an online sporting goods retailer called My Journey My Success, first fell ill with COVID-19 months into the pandemic following a business trip to Los Angeles, his uncle Oscar Castillo told Denverite.

Two months after recovering and testing negative for the virus, Portillo came down with a fever after attending a party, according to Castillo.

Ferrel told KDVR that Portillo went to the doctor's office on Nov. 18, where he was told he had a "really strong infection in his lungs" and was advised to take Tylenol.

"That was the last [time] I heard from him," she recalled. "He just went to sleep."

Portillo died in his sleep, according to Castillo, and the COVID-19 test he took during his last doctor's visit came back positive two days after his death.

"It's a little bit difficult to know that he doesn't exist physically anymore," Castillo told Denverite. "He was a guy with a lot of light."

In a GoFundMe campaign created to raise funds to transport Portillo's remains to his parents in El Salvador, Portillo's family called the death "an unexpected loss for all of us."

"On behalf of Wilbers family, we want you to remember him for the happy soul he was. His family and friends know that Wilber had a positive outlook on life," the fundraiser's description read.

"If there's anything we would like for you to remember Wilber by is, BE THE BEST YOU. This was his motto, be the best you, live life to the fullest. We also hope to seek awareness that COVID-19 is to be taken serious. No matter how young or healthy you may seem."

According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, cases of COVID-19 reinfections have been reported, but they remain rare​.

As of Monday, more than 23,983,600 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus, according to a New York Times database.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

This story originally appeared on people.com

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