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I Went Home to Texas to Cover the Virus. Then My Family Got It.




After Mr. Contreras’s burial, Ms. Flores developed a dry cough. She later tested positive for the virus.

Two weeks after she had started feeling sick, all four of her children were also showing signs.

Looking back, she wished her family had heeded the warnings. Some days she wonders if she should have pushed back more forcefully. First there was the pachanga, then the funeral. They had known such gatherings could be risky, she said, but somehow no one really believed there would be serious consequences.

“There is a whole mentality of no pasa nada,’ you know?” she said. “Nothing will happen.”

As the second week of July rolled around, most of my dozen or so family members who had fallen ill began peeling out of bed. My mother and aunt remained hospitalized but were showing signs of recovery. Everyone told stories of excruciating body aches, debilitating chills and burning fevers.




Apa limped out of his bedroom, the lights from a window stabbing his eyes. He said he felt as if he had wrestled a monster made out of burning lava all night. My oldest sister said that every morning after waking up, she felt as if an invisible hammer was smashing her head.

Some days, Ama managed to text us a selfie, outfitted in her oxygen mask. Other days she told us that she had slept poorly and that her breathing became labored when she tried to walk.

All five of us children stared at our phones as if our lives depended on it, waiting for news.

“They are giving me plasma,” she would write, and then go silent.

“I want to come home soon,” she would text days later.

Nearly a week after I had dropped her at the emergency room, her mood and breathing had significantly improved. She was able to sit upright and hold a phone conversation for five minutes. We began talking about preparations for her eventual return home.

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