EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — It’s difficult to fathom the enormity of loss occurring as COVID-19 cases continue to mock efforts to return to life as we once knew it.
One El Paso family is in mourning after the sudden death of a family member from California who contracted COVID-19 at a party in California and now must wait two weeks to conduct funeral services.
Tommy Macias, 51, attended a party about two weeks ago and began to show symptoms a week later.
He posted an impassioned message on Facebook on lamenting previously ignoring social distancing and mask-wearing recommendations and expressed guilt for exposing his family.
“Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters’ and my family’s health in jeopardy. This has been a very painful experience,” he wrote.
“Hopefully with God’s help I’ll be able to survive this.”
Macias was dead less than two days later.
Macias’ niece, Danielle Lopez, tells KTSM 9 News that her uncle began showing symptoms he thought were related to having diabetes last Monday but soon realized the situation was far more severe.
Macias was tested for COVID-19 on Tuesday that returned a positive diagnosis on Thursday.
“Sunday morning he called my grandmother and said he was having trouble breathing, then called the ambulance, and went to the hospital. They started him on oxygen, and he was there for a few hours. Then they decided to put him on a ventilator in the early evening,” Lopez tells KTSM 9 News.
“He was only on the ventilator for maybe an hour before he passed away.”
At least fourteen other party attendees contracted COVID-19 with Macias, according to the Macias family. Lopez says its an example of why social distancing and wearing masks is paramount, and how failing to do so can be lethal.
Lopez added, “There was one person infected at that party and not wearing a mask. If they had worn a mask this wouldn’t have happened.”
The family is fortunate that no other family members have yet to exhibit symptoms but the family is more aware than ever, Lopez says.
Macias’ death comes during a contentious moment in which health precautions have been politicized as a violation of constitutional liberties.
Texas has seen record-breaking numbers of new cases this week after Gov. Greg Abbott announced the state has doubled its infection rate in the last month.
He is not happy about it.
This week, El Paso has seen four days of triple-digit new cases along with more frequent deaths.
“I think it’s absolutely necessary that everybody continues to wear their masks, don’t attend any gatherings, only go out when absolutely necessary,” she said. “Listen to the doctors, listen to the science — they know what’s best.”
Macias’ family has set-up a GoFundMe campaign to help offset funeral costs, you can contribute here.