The spread of the novel coronavirus is far from over in the U.S. While some states have reopened and residents have begun ignoring the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines, we are still living during a pandemic. According to CNN, 36 states across the U.S. have seen a rise in cases as compared to last week. The country broke another record Friday, reporting the highest number of cases in a single day at more than 40,000 new cases of COVID-19. Data compiled by the CDC suggests that this number could be six to 24 times greater than reported.
Families who have experienced infection in large numbers are warning people to continue observing social distancing and other precautionary measures to stop the spread of the virus. A Los Angeles man shared his story this week in which he and 27 other members of his family tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
While most of them have recovered or are in the process of recovering, 27-year-old Richard Garay lost his father to the virus on June 20, a day before Father’s Day. According to KTLA5, amongst the infected family members include his mother, children, and a pregnant woman. While the family is uncertain how they contracted the virus, they believe it could have been a caretaker who cares for Garay’s mother or a family member who visited in May.
Garay first experienced symptoms at the end of May and proceeded to isolate himself. He then tested positive for the virus on June 1. “Within days, our health just deteriorated,” Garay told CBS Los Angeles. “It went from, you know, one day being OK to I can’t breathe, I can’t get up, I cannot eat.”
Before testing positive for the virus, both he and his father lost their sense of smell and taste, they both were told they had COVID-19 on June 4. Garay’s shared that his last words with his father were while observing quarantine in a room together. “I’m like, ‘Dad, I don’t think I’m going to make it,’” Garay said. “That was the last thing I told my father, and the last thing my dad saw was his son suffocating.”
Garay’s father, Vidal Garay, had underlining health conditions that made him more susceptible to contracting the virus. He previously battled Leukemia and was currently battling a rare form of anemia. Health officials have warned that those with underlining conditions may face more severe symptoms of COVID-19. Both father and son were later taken to the hospital and while Garay recovered, Vidal died after two weeks of care.
According to BuzzFeed News, Garay believes his father was the first one in the family to contract the virus. Vidal visited hospitals twice a month for blood transfusions. He noted that when his father first began showing symptoms the family did not connect his sickness to coronavirus as his father “always felt sick.”
“My dad was my best friend,” Garay said. “I don’t want my father’s death to be in vain. I don’t want people to experience the heartbreak we’re going through.” Garay hopes sharing his family’s story will help people understand how serious the virus is in addition to the importance of wearing protective gear. “Nobody likes to wear a mask. I don’t like to wear a mask because I feel like I can’t breathe,” Garay said. “But if it’s going to save the life of somebody, I’m going to wear the damn mask.”
California Gov. Gavin Newsom had warned this week the state would pause the reopening process if a surge in cases was found. There have been more than 2.5 million reported infections of COVID-19 in the U.S. and at least 125,539 deaths reported as a result of the virus, according to Johns Hopkins University.
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