Richard Garay claims that he and 27 other members of his family were infected with COVID-19. His father, Vidal Garay, 60, passed away just a day before Father’s Day earlier this month.
Garay, 27, claims he first began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 in late May, with his father falling ill around that same time.
“Within days, our health just deteriorated. It went from, you know, one day being OK to I can’t breathe, I can’t get up, I cannot eat,” he told local news station CBSLA.
He said he and his father tested positive for the novel virus on June 4 and both started quarantining together thereafter. Other members of their family also tested positive around the same time, with Garay suspecting they may have contracted it from a relative who came to visit in May or from a caretaker who looks after his mother. However, the definitive source of infection remains a mystery.
At one point while battling COVID-19, Garay experienced difficulty breathing and was taken to the hospital via ambulance.
“I’m like, ‘Dad, I don’t think I’m going to make it,'” Garay told the news outlet of what were ultimately his last words to his father. “That was the last thing I told my father, and the last thing my dad saw was his son suffocating.”
Not long after, Vidal was also taken to a local hospital after his condition deteriorated to the point that he could no longer recover at home. After two weeks of care, Vidal – who had recently battled leukemia and suffered from a rare form of anemia, CBSLA reported – passed away from COVID-19, leaving behind a wife, three sons, and four grandchildren.
Everyone else in the family who was infected has reportedly recovered, per the news station.
“If you think it’s fake, you’re going to continue to do what you’re doing and not protect yourself. You don’t want to be in a position where you find yourself in a hospital bed … before it’s too late,” Richard told the local news station KTLA.
“I don’t want my father’s death to be in vain,” he added. “I want people to understand coronavirus is a real thing.”