"Everything went very fast," is the first thing Richard Garay says when he relates the spread of the coronavirus among more than 25 members of his family, whom he hit without knowing the origin of the contagion and who ended up claiming his father's life.
The nightmare of this Hispanic family from Los Angeles (California, USA), with Mexican Nayarite roots, began in late May when Richard returned from working with a fever, according to a telephone interview with Efe.
In the first days of June, with the persistent symptoms, the 26-year-old Hispanic man went to be tested together with his father, the Mexican Vidal Garay, 60 years old. The results came back positive and both were ordered to isolate themselves.
They did so, together in a room so as not to infect the other six family members who live in the house. "We had no energy, we couldn't eat, we were bad, but together," recalls Richard.
Father and son were isolated for a week until Richard felt "he was going to die."
"I said 'uh-huh, I don't think I'm going to survive,'" he said in a breathy voice. Her father called the emergency service and assured him that "all this was going to happen."
Richard's younger brother had to carry him to the ambulance. That's the last thing the Hispanic man remembers before waking up in a hospital where the doctor told him he had pneumonia and that his lungs were filling with water.
THE CONTACTS ARE EXTENDED TO THE FAMILY
At the clinic, Richard learned that his father also had to be hospitalized and further that the positive results had spread in his home, including his two children, in addition to other relatives who do not live with them, among uncles, cousins and his grandfather.
"Right now they are about 28, my wife is missing, and she is waiting for the result, but she already has a fever. She was the one who took care of us all," said the Hispanic, who has already been discharged from the hospital although he still has trouble breathing.
Her father, her isolation partner, passed away Saturday. None of her relatives could be by her side in her final moments.
WHO BROUGHT THE VIRUS?
As if it were used for something, a question does not stop repeating itself in the Garay family: How or who brought the disease to the home?
One possibility leads them to May 16, when Vidal Garay's 60th birthday was celebrated. Only the eight people who live in the house and a mariachi who, according to Richard, kept their distance, were part of the celebration, although none of the participants in the celebration wore masks.
Some relatives also came to the house that May after the death of an aunt from a disease not related to COVID-19.
However, for Richard the strongest suspicion falls on the medical center to which his father had to go every fortnight to receive treatment for the anemia he suffered. He believes it was there that his father contracted the virus and then brought it home.
The cases of this family are in addition to recent statistics from California, a state that, like many others in the south and southwest of the country, reflects spikes in the disease after the escalating process of economic reopening.
On Wednesday, California registered the highest number of daily infections since the pandemic began, adding 7,149 new positives in 24 hours.
Added to this is a 32% increase in hospitalizations in the last 14 days. The increase is also registered in ICUs, where 34% of these beds are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.
ALSO IN TEXAS
The collective contagion of the Garays is not the only one among Hispanic families. In North Texas, 18 family members fight COVID-19 after contracting it in a meeting held last month.
Ron Barbosa told the KTRK television channel that they believe the infection was spread at a surprise party held on May 30 and through a relative who did not know he was infected.
Eight of the guests acquired the virus and in turn spread it to 10 other relatives. Those affected include two seniors, two young children, and a woman who is fighting mom's cancer.
THE HARDEST YEAR
Richard Garay says the arrival of the coronavirus has been "the most difficult year" for his family.
Without having fully recovered their health, and without work, without money and on the verge of an eviction, now the family has to face the costs of the patriarch's funeral.
In view of the situation, they have decided to seek the help of citizens by opening an account on the GofundMe platform in the name of Vidal Garay García to collect donations.
"I am concerned about my mom who just lost her husband of more than 30 years, her sister and is very depressed," said the Hispanic, who warns about the risks of taking the coronavirus lightly.
"Please, please put on your masks, wear gloves, 'hand sanitizer' because the virus is true and unfortunately there are people like me who are affected by the virus," he stressed.
"Be aware and save lives," he insisted.