The lessons of a Chelsea family’s COVID-19 ordeal

Source: Boston Globe

Her husband, Roberto, was rushed to the hospital on April 1 with COVID-19. He was so sick doctors intubated him. Rosa also had COVID-19, and was running a fever and had chest pains. In fact, nearly everyone in her household — a three-bedroom apartment in Chelsea — contracted the virus and fell ill to varying degrees: Rosa’s sister and a niece, as well as Rosa and Roberto’s three children, including their 11-year-old son who has asthma. The only one who was not infected was her infant niece.

“The very worst of last year was when the doctors told me [Roberto] was intubated and they really didn’t give us a lot of hope for him,” Rosa said in an interview in Spanish. “I thought he was going to die. And by then I was also sick with the virus. I kept telling myself, ‘I have to be strong, I can’t leave my kids all by themselves.’ I would go crazy just thinking I would leave them alone. And I couldn’t do anything about it except tell myself to be strong.”

An immigrant from El Salvador, Rosa wasn’t well enough to go back to work as an office cleaner until late May, she said, leaving the family with no income. Her husband was in the hospital for nearly two months, hovering near death. Her world hanging by a thread, Rosa held it together. And now, one year later, she is a reminder of the lopsided impact of the pandemic, the uneven devastation affecting the most vulnerable whose own return to normal will never be normal. And it’s not over yet for Rosa and for many like her.



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