Richard Garay says he was the first in his family from South Los Angeles to come down with COVID-19 symptoms last month, after which 27 others in the family tested positive for the virus.
“It went from running nose to headache to full-blown fever,” he said.
Around the same time, his 60-year-old father, Vidal Garay, also got sick.
“It was painful to watch my dad’s health decline so drastically in front of me,” Richard Garay said. “My father is my best friend.”
Both of them had tested positive for the virus when Richard Garay’s condition worsened.
“I looked at my father and told my father, ‘Dad, I don’t think I’m going to make it,'” he said. “Unfortunately, those were my last words to my father, and that’s the last thing my father saw of me.”
Garay eventually recovered, but his father passed away a day before Father’s Day.
“I don’t want my father’s death to be in vain,” he said. “I want people to understand coronavirus is a real thing.”
Richard Garay’s children, along with his brother’s pregnant wife also tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Most of the 28 family members have already recovered, he said.
“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,” he said.
Garay is raising money through a GoFundMe page for his father’s funeral expenses.