Richard Garay has two words for coronavirus naysayers: “It’s real.”
The Southern California resident lost his 60-year-old father, Vidal Garay, to COVID-19 the day before Father’s Day, he told CNN. He himself was sick at the same time and had to be hospitalized.
In all, 28 members of their family have tested positive — including both his parents, a 2-year-old and two other young children, two brothers and a pregnant sister-in-law, Garay, 27, told CNN.
While most are recovering, the family is grief-stricken and in shock. They are not the only family to spread the virus through their ranks. In Texas, 18 members of a family are battling COVID-19 after a surprise birthday party.
Both Garay and his father got sick and tested positive in early June, the son told CNN.
At first, they quarantined together in one bedroom at home in Los Angeles, since as far as they knew, no one else in their family had it. For days, their symptoms were relatively mild. Then both took a turn for the worse.
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“Within days, our health just deteriorated,” Garay told KCBS-TV. “It went from, you know, one day being OK to I can’t breathe, I can’t get up, I cannot eat.”
Then came the day that Garay woke up “gasping for air,” he recounted. He went to the hospital.
“He struggled to even drink his medication. He couldn’t eat. We had no appetite,” Garay told CNN. “I would force myself to try and eat spoonfuls of soup and tried to force my dad to eat it too.”
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A few days later, his father too was hospitalized. Garay came out, and is recovering.
But Vidal wasn’t so lucky. Underlying conditions — a rare form of anemia and a recent bout of leukemia, according to KCBS — compromised his ability to fight.
“Hopefully his death can help save people,” Garay told CNN. “I don’t want him to be a statistic. If his story can save a life, it’s worth telling his story. It’s real. Doesn’t take long to get exposed.”