After attending a birthday party and then testing positive for COVID-19, one Texas family is warning others to take the coronavirus seriously and listen to health experts' advice as cases skyrocket across the country. "All of this pain that my family is feeling, this loneliness, this sickness, this longing to be healthy could have been prevented," the family said in a recent PSA.
A total of 12 people in one family based out of Arlington, Texas reportedly contracted the coronavirus after attending a small, indoor birthday party at the beginning of November, according to The Washington Post. Alexa Aragonez, 26, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that her family had been "extremely vigilant" since the start of the pandemic and believed it would be safe for them to gather for her cousin's wife's birthday. While Alexa herself did not attend the party, her 57-year-old mother Enriqueta Aragonez, pregnant cousin, and four children under the age of 12 did. While at the party, the attendees sat around on a couch (without masks) and ate food, but did not pose for pictures, according to The Washington Post. All of the party attendees ended up testing positive for the coronavirus after experiencing "early symptoms of a cold," according to the Forth Worth Star-Telegram, and they ended up spreading it to three other people outside of the family.
Enriqueta had the "most dangerous case" of the coronavirus out of all of her family members, Alexa told The Washington Post. She ended up getting pneumonia in both lungs, was admitted to the hospital for a week and is now recovering at home. "Now I am in the hospital," she says in the PSA video, which has been shared on the City of Arlington's social media pages. "I can't see my family."
Alexa told The Washington Post that the rest of her family members have had more mild cases but experienced common symptoms associated with the coronavirus — loss of taste and smell, body aches, migraines, and fatigue. But, as the family points out in the video, the coronavirus has caused a bigger impact on their lives. They can't visit each other, have a cup of coffee together, or hug each other.
The family is now warning the public about the dangers of gathering ahead of Thanksgiving, according to WFAA ABC. "We'd like to share the message that you are not immune," Alexa told the news outlet. "Your family is not immune. But by staying at home, you can prevent the spread of COVID-19."
Ahead of Thanksgiving, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned about the dangers of gathering for the holidays. The CDC recommends that everyone should celebrate at home with the people they live with. But if you do choose to gather with people outside of your home, the CDC advises that everyone should wear a mask, stay at least six feet apart from each other, and wash your hands as often as possible.
"Please, don't be like my family and ignore the CDC guidelines," Alexa says in the PSA. "By staying apart, we can fight this virus together. The cure starts and ends with you."
If you think you’re showing symptoms of coronavirus, which include fever, shortness of breath, and cough, call your doctor before going to get tested. If you’re anxious about the virus’s spread in your community, visit the CDC for up-to-date information and resources, or seek out mental health support. You can find all of Romper’s parents + coronavirus coverage here.