Editor’s note: This story was produced by Hola Carolina and is used with permission. The story can be viewed in Spanish at holacarolina.com.
No one ever plans on getting sick, says Lucy Ortiz, a mother of six in Henderson County. Four members of her family have been diagnosed with the coronavirus, including her 17-month-old son.
Although she is anxious about telling people her family is COVID-19 positive and fears reprisal, Ortiz believes it’s vital to speak publicly about her situation to warn others of the dangers associated with the virus.
“It can happen to anybody. I don’t want people wondering what we did or didn’t do to acquire it. We were careful and we got it,” Ortiz says. Her family of nine is quarantining together; so far, her husband, 16-year-old daughter, 17-month-old son and father-in-law have tested positive and are in different phases of recovery.
Ortiz’s father-in-law was first in the family to be diagnosed with COVID-19 after experiencing fever, chills and body pain. He was hospitalized for 15 days before his release last month. “He was receiving 20 liters of oxygen a day and now is getting two liters. He’s doing much better, but we are taking very small baby steps,” Ortiz says.
COVID-19 symptoms can vary between cases. Her toddler son developed a cough and a fever and is very fussy, Ortiz says, while her teenage daughter has no symptoms at all. Ortiz tried to get tested herself but was told to wait until she began showing symptoms.
Like many other mothers living paycheck to paycheck, Ortiz worries about how her family’s bills will be paid. “With my husband’s last paycheck, we paid part of April’s rent,” she says. “Now, the whole family is quarantined and we have no income for May. Plus, the medical bills are starting to arrive.”
Ortiz hopes her story helps spread the message that the coronavirus is a very real danger for families like hers. “The cough is not fake. The fever is not fake. The reality of what is happening to my family is not fake. It’s real,” she says. “Please keep our family in your prayers and don’t judge us.”