covid-19 coronavirus file photo cdc

Transmission electron microscopic image of an isolate from the first U.S. case of COVID-19, formerly known as 2019-nCoV. The spherical extracellular viral particles contain cross-sections through the viral genome, seen as black dots.

Penn State University has reported its first known student death attributed to COVID-19. 

A news release said it "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."

According to the university, 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," it said. "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.

“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, senior director of university health services.

“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.”

The Morning Call reported that Sandra Figueroa Torres, Garcia's former principal at Lincoln Leadership Academy Charter School, said the man known as Juancito "was always full of love, compassion and a deep sense of loyalty to those he called family and friends.”