NYC sanitation worker takes COVID test, disappears


Santiago Cordero went missing after being discharged from a hospital. (Credit: Cordero family)

NEW YORK (PIX11) — A sanitation worker with cancer and diabetes disappeared Wednesday after a local hospital checked him for COVID, according to his daughter, who is frantically looking for him. Santiago Cordero, known as “Pepe,” is 62 years old.

Cordero is a father of two and grandfather of six. His daughter, Rebecca Lord, said he’d left for his maintenance job at the Bronx 8 facility in upper Manhattan, which serves two boroughs. “He told my mother he felt nauseous,” Rebecca Lord said. “But he went to work.”

Later, Cordero told his wife he was going to get a COVID test. Then, Lord’s mother received a call from Cordero’s job. “At 8:30 or 9 a.m., they called my mother and said they took him to the hospital because he wasn’t feeling well,” the daughter said.

Cordero’s wife said she learned her husband was at Presbyterian Hospital’s Allen Building in Washington Heights. “She left her job,” Lord continued. “She got there about 10:30 a.m. and they said she couldn’t wait at the hospital. They gave her a number.”

When Cordero’s wife went home to the Bronx to await news, the daughter said her mom contacted the hospital again. According to Lord, a doctor said they were “99% sure” Cordero had COVID. The family continued to worry, and when they called in the evening, the mother was reportedly told her husband was discharged at 4:50 p.m.

Cordero never made it home to the Bronx. The maintenance worker, who was treated for throat cancer last year—which affected his speaking voice—has been employed by the Department of Sanitation for 15 years, according to his daughter.  

Lord said her father had the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but didn’t receive his booster yet. He needs medication for diabetes. “He’s a working man. He goes to work and goes home,” Lord said. “My father’s an old-school guy.”

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