Florida hotel worker who was laid off without insurance, dies later from COVID-19

MIAMI (NBC) – A family in Florida searches for answers after their father passes away from COVID-19.

“Deutsch was a man of integrity, always had a smile on his face, loved his family, looked after his family and did everything for his family.”

The 55-year-old was a banquet host at the Fontainebleau Hotel for 11 years, according to his Hospitality Union Unite Here Local 355. The group says he was laid off during the pandemic shutdown and lost his health insurance benefits.

It is said that he later contracted COVID-19, fell into a coma, and died after weeks of fighting.

“During his entire time in the hospital, he received no medical care. He will not receive a $ 10,000 death benefit, “said Wendi Walsh, principal officer of Unite Here Local 355.

The Fountainbleau Hotel issued a statement offering condolences.

“The Fontainebleau was deeply saddened by the death of the German Amaya, and on behalf of Team Bleau our hearts go out to his family and friends.”

However, the union says Amaya could have kept his health insurance after he was fired. They say that of the half-dozen hotels they work with in Miami-Dade and Broward, the Fontainebleau is the only employer that has eradicated the health benefits of their laid-off workers, leaving families like Amayas in a difficult position.

“So, his family now, as they mourn his death, also face an enormous financial burden,” said Walsh.

The Fontainebleau explains that after three months of stagnation during the pandemic, they had to lay off almost all of their workforce. The hotel posted a response which in part stated:

“To date, we have been able to recall approximately 360 of our unionized workers for employment, paying the full monthly contribution of $ 975.37 for every month that an employee has worked even one day.”

NBC 6 was told by Amaya’s union that he was also a shop steward who fought for his employees.

“He was a leader in our union who always stood up for his workers who represented his workers in the union in contract negotiations,” said Walsh.

According to Fountainbleau, any of its former employees can continue their previous health coverage through COBRA Temporary Health Insurance for up to 18 months at their own expense.

The union says that out of 700 hotel professionals they represent, only 70 are currently working.

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