Tony Green decided to host a family gathering over the summer, in spite of COVID-19 restrictions — a move that cost two family members their lives, he wrote in his op-ed for The Washington Post.
In June, Green was frustrated with the restrictions in place in Texas. As he didn’t know anyone who had gotten the virus yet, he believed it was an "overblown media hoax." Earlier this year, the virus was more concentrated on the East Coast, than in Texas. Green decided to host a family gathering, after not seeing his family for several months.
The 43-year-old invited four people, his parents and his partner's parents, to the home he shares with his partner for a relaxing weekend of meals, movies and fun by the lake.
Within days of the family gathering, all six tested positive for COVID-19. To make matters worse, eight members of their extended families then tested positive soon after.
Green recovered from the virus, but had severe symptoms and spent three days in the hospital. Unfortunately, his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s mother were not as lucky. Both passed away from the virus.
Things had been looking up for his father-in-law, whom he dubbed as his “best friend,” as he was improving on supplemental oxygen. Then one day, tragedy struck when one of his lungs collapsed and the other lung began to fill with fluid. Although he was put on a ventilator and life support for two months, he did not survive the illness.
The painful experience was a lesson for Green, and he hopes that now he can "be the example" and "bring awareness" of the risks when people let their guard down.
"The feeling that I have is kind of like what, I would say, a drunk driver would have if they killed their family," he said. "It was unintentional. This was my home. This is where it happened. So, you know there is a sense of responsibility."
With Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations in the near future, he said that it’s time to "take a little bit of extra precaution." He suggested that if people want to host family events, hold them outside or in large spaces.
He added that if people feel nervous to host or attend events during the holidays, they should "bow out this year," adding: "I think that you've got a reason to be afraid of it."
He wrote in his op-ed that he feels like he can’t escape COVID-19.
"It’s torn up our family. It’s all over my Facebook. It’s the election. It’s Trump. It’s what I keep thinking about,” he said. “How many people would have gotten sick if I’d never hosted that weekend? One? Maybe two? The grief comes in waves, but that guilt just sits."
Our thoughts are with Green's family.