Even as many parts of the United States are beginning to reopen their economies, experts still warn about gathering in groups, which can exponentially increase the spread of the novel coronavirus. Yet, some people are still learning this reality the hard way, as in the case of a Texas family who unwittingly spread the coronavirus to at least 18 people as a result of a surprise birthday party that left three people hospitalized, out of 25 who attended.
Ron Barbosa later told his local ABC affiliate WFAA 8 News that the May 30 surprise party, hosted by his nephew, had been for his daughter-in-law’s 30th birthday. However, Barbosa and his wife, who is a doctor, refused to attend due to safety reasons.
Now, Barbosa believes that it was his nephew, who had been exhibiting a cough on the day of the party (which he attributed to working in construction), was likely the first exposed to the disease, which spread like wildfire throughout his family. Among those hospitalized have been Barbosa’s 88-year-old dad, his 86-year-old mom, and his sister, who is currently being treated for breast cancer.
“Next thing you know, the two nephews that basically live next door to him, they get the same cough and diarrhea, body aches, and they start getting sick,” Barbosa told Buzzfeed News. “By the 6th [of June], there [were] a lot of symptoms. And by the 9th, people are getting really, really bad. And by the 13th, [my family] had to take my sister and my mom to the hospital.”
Unfortunately, Barbosa said he saw this coming from a mile away and has not been above saying “I told you so.”
“When people started getting sick, we really let everyone have it,” he said. “We knew this was going to happen, I mean this whole time this has been going on we’ve been terrified.”
Still, that brings Barbosa no solace, as his father Frank is in the ICU and on life support, and just “inches away from being put on a ventilator.”
“My dad’s hanging on by a thread,” Barbosa said. “They’re saying this is one of the last straws for [him].”
Due to the recent explosion of COVID-19 cases, Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on June 25 that the state will pause any further reopening measures, after recording over 130,000 cases and 2,200 deaths.
“As we experience an increase in both positive COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations, we are focused on strategies that slow the spread of this virus while also allowing Texans to continue earning a paycheck to support their families,” said Governor Abbott in the statement.
“The last thing we want to do as a state is to go backward and close down businesses,” he added. “This temporary pause will help our state corral the spread until we can safely enter the next phase of opening our state for business.”
Abbott also called upon Texans to do their part to slow the spread of the disease by wearing a mask, regularly washing hands, and to practice responsible socially distancing.