One Texas family is urging others to not let their guards down about the pandemic, even as more and more stage continue with plans to reopen, after 18 of their relatives tested positive for the coronavirus. Back in May, the family had gotten together for a surprise birthday party and one attendee unknowingly infected several others.
On May 30, Ron Barbosa's nephew, who had a "slight" cough but did not know he was infected, hosted a surprise party with about 25 family members in Carrollton, Texas, according to local news outlet KHOU 11. Although they tried to stay distant from each other and the party didn't last very long, the virus was subsequently passed on to seven others. Barbosa, a volunteer EMT who did not attend the party, told KHOU 11 that those seven people then spread it to 10 other family members.
"It wasn't that long," Barbosa told KHOU 11. "It was only a couple of hours. But during that brief time, somehow the other 18 family members are now infected with COVID."
At the time of the party, Texas was in Phase 2 of reopening. Businesses like bars, child care facilities, and bowling alleys were allowed to open with limited occupancy, although an executive order from Texas Gov. Greg dated May 18 urged Texans to "minimize social gatherings and minimize in-person contact with people who are not in the same household."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's current guidelines for gatherings state that "virtual-only activities, events, and gatherings" are the lowest risk, while "smaller outdoor and in-person gatherings in which individuals from different households remain spaced at least 6 feet apart, wear cloth face coverings, do not share objects, and come from the same local area" come with more risk.
Barbosa told KHOU 11 that of the 18 people who've been infected, two are young children, two are grandparents, and one is currently battling breast cancer. Three are currently hospitalized. "We're not taking any chances," he told the news outlet, "this is real."
This week, Texas reported an all-time high number of coronavirus cases, according to NPR, surpassing 5,000 new cases in a single day. Currently, the state has reported more than 125,000 positive cases of COVID-19 and on Thursday, Abbott paused the state from reopening any further.
"The last thing we want to do as a state is go backwards and close down businesses. 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 said in a statement. "I ask all Texans to do their part to slow the spread of COVID-19 by wearing a mask, washing their hands regularly, and socially distancing from others. The more that we all follow these guidelines, the safer our state will be and the more we can open up Texas for business."
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.