Trump National

Trump International invites Super Bowl aficionados, golfers or non fans to sample a scrumptious Super Sunday menu or have a picnic on the verdant field where the resort meets the sea. (Photo submitted)

A Rancho Palos Verdes resident, whose family says tested positive for the coronavirus, has died, the city has confirmed.

Robert “Bert” Argo Jr., 75, was an active member of the Rancho Palos Verdes community, according to a recent city statement. That statement did not say whether Argo tested positive for COVID-19. But a family obituary about the man did say he died from the disease. Argo attended a birthday party early last month at Trump National Golf Club, attended by several others who subsequently fell ill and tested positive for COVID-19, according to Dr. Ed Piken, who also attended.

“The city extends its deepest condolences to the family,” the statement said. “We ask for their privacy to be respected during this difficult time.”

The birthday party Argo attended was for former Mayor Susan Brooks, where roughly 16 to 20 others also came down with COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus. Brooks was among those who tested positive and she was briefly hospitalized.

The source of the transmission during the birthday party remains unclear.

But Piken, 71, and his wife, Kelly Piken, 60, who are Palos Verdes Estates residents, said on Monday, April 6, that they were not the ones to transmit the virus at the party, despite initial reports that they might be.

The Pikens departed a Caribbean cruise on March 1 in Miami, but none of the six members of their travelling party got the coronavirus, the couple said. They also attended three separate large gatherings after the trip, including one at the Palos Verdes Golf Club on March 11. But nobody the couple had close contact with there, at a funeral for Ed Pikens’ father –attended by 60 others — or at one other party have tested positive, Ed Piken said.

Instead, Piken said, he suspects he and his wife contracted the virus at the birthday party.

“Everyone blamed us, but we were not the first to get sick,” Piken said. “But because of me being a doctor, we were the first to get tested. So we sounded the alarm as good citizens should to make sure that everybody knew.

“Certainly, as a doctor, the last thing I would socially consider is possibly risking anybody’s health,” he added. “So we must have made 100 phone calls as soon as we hung up with the board of health.”

One of the first phone calls they made was to Brooks, who notified the guests at her party. Mayor John Cruikshank, who also contracted COVID-19, said he believed he got the virus from handling a microphone.

Piken said he had a fever that lasted 17 days. At first, he said, the virus didn’t seem that bad; and then after about five days, Piken added, it hit him harder than any illness in his life.

“It was so awful and horrible,” Kelly Piken said. “I’m still reeling. It is beyond anything you could ever imagine.”

The 75-year-old Argo, meanwhile, died on March 27. The family obituary described him as “the picture of health and vitality,” a “loving husband of Carol for 44 years,” and a “true Southern gentleman.”

Argo spent his career as a mortgage banker and was also a pilot, the obituary said; and volunteered to help disadvantaged youth. He is survived by his daughter, Melanie Young, her husband, Zachary, and granddaughter, Mikaela.

Rancho Palos Verdes has 33 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus as of Monday.

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