A Texas man is speaking out after he dismissed COVID-19, contracted it, and hosted a gathering that likely caused it to spread throughout his close and extended family, leaving two dead.
Tony Green said he hosted a small at-home gathering the weekend of June 12 for himself and five members of his family, thinking that the worst of the pandemic was over. He said that nobody he knew had contracted the coronavirus and he felt it was time to move on with their lives.
“I used to call it the ‘scamdemic.’ I thought it was an overblown media hoax. I made fun of people for wearing masks,” he told The Washington Post.
But by Sunday morning, Green said, he started to feel off. Then his partner did. And his parents. And his father-in-law.
“I have no idea which one of us brought the virus into the house, but all six of us left with it. It kept spreading from there,” he said.
Green said his symptoms just kept getting worse and worse before he was eventually hospitalized.
“I stayed in the hospital for three days, trying to get my mind around it. It was guilt, embarrassment, shame. I thought: ‘OK. Maybe now I’ve paid for my mistake.’ But it kept getting worse,” he said.
The virus kept spreading, leading to a total of 14 infections in his family. Some got really sick. Others didn’t.
Green’s 52-year-old father-in-law, whom he called his “best friend,” and his father-in-law’s mother both died.
“I break down sometimes, but mostly, I’m empty. Am I glad to be alive? I don’t know. I don’t know how to answer that,” Green said.
In an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Monday, Green said he doesn’t know who had the virus first, but he feels a sense of responsibility.
“The feeling that I have is kind of like what a drunk driver would have if they killed their family,” he said.
Green said he voted for President Donald Trump in 2016, but sees his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as a “big failure.”
“There should have been more mitigation that was done in the beginning,” he said. “It should have been taken more seriously by the administration.”
Asked if he would have been more likely to wear a mask and take the virus seriously had the president done so, Green said it would’ve been convincing to have had that.
He urged other families to take extra precautions this holiday season. He suggested that if you must, hold any family events outdoors or in larger homes.
“If you’re nervous about it, I don’t say, ‘don’t be afraid of it.’ I think you’ve got a reason to be afraid of it,” he said. “I think you should maybe bow out this year.”
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