Coronavirus Outbreak at Family BBQ Hospitalizes 2, Infects 8 Others

The novel coronavirus infected 10 members of a family who attended a backyard barbecue in southern California, two of whom were hospitalized for weeks.

The party, held on June 7 in the city of Fontana, was attended by 12 people, California's ABC 7 reported.

"It was like, let's have a get-together in the backyard," Tina Smith of Apple Valley told ABC 7.

"No one's been sick. It was a beautiful day. And that's when it all went down," she noted.

Smith claimed her family had been taking precautionary measures seriously throughout the outbreak, including using hand sanitizer frequently and wearing masks.

"We stayed outside in the backyard. We didn't social distance, and sat close together. We didn't hug too much. It had been a while since we'd seen each other.

"We had this innocent little barbecue with just our family. We thought it was safe," she told ABC 7.

Several days after the gathering, Smith and her husband began developing symptoms. She was reported to have had a fever for two days, while her husband's condition was worse.

"This fever did not shake, he had a fever for six days. So we called our doctor and she said to come in and take a COVID test," Smith said.

Smith was hospitalized for three weeks, but her husband's condition eventually saw him hospitalized for more than two months.

"They put my husband on a ventilator on day one. For days he was up and down, and on a BiPAP machine trying to breathe for weeks.

"They had to intubate him again. He had two collapsed lungs; pneumonia; two chest tubes," she added, noting doctors had called her and her son into the hospital "to say goodbye [to her husband]. There was nothing more they could do because it [his condition] was so severe."

Last month Smith's husband was discharged from hospital and has since been in rehabilitation the past few weeks. He has lost 45 pounds in the past 90 days, according to Smith.

As Smith and her husband both work in the health care industry, she speculated whether they could have been infected before the barbecue.

"He goes to a lot of different job sites so it was difficult to track down if he got it first.

"But we don't know. Could it have been in a grocery store? Who knows what happened?" Smith said.

None of the eight other infected members of the family were reported to have had conditions as severe as Smith and her husband, who both have diabetes and mild cases of high blood pressure, she noted.

Three of Smith's children tested positive, two of whom only had mild symptoms, while "the other didn't get sick," she said.

"Wear your masks for other people, not for you. For your grandma; for your children," Smith urged.

"This COVID is no joke. My husband was a vibrant worker and now he's learning how to walk [again]. That's beyond belief that he has to learn to walk; how to dress again; learn to eat again," she added.

The latest cluster of cases comes as confirmed infections in California approach 776,000, as of Friday, according to the latest report from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).

Average daily new cases in California were reported to be on a downward trend in the past two weeks between September 2-15, according to the latest report Friday by JHU.

The average daily case count has been mostly declining since late July, peaking at 11,604 on July 29, after mostly rising from late March, according to JHU.

Huntington beach California July 2020
People crossing the street in Huntington Beach, California, on July 19. Ten members of a family in southern California have been infected with COVID-19 following a family gathering in June. Getty Images

The wider picture

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 30.2 million people across the globe, including more than 6.6 million in the U.S. More than 947,500 people have died globally, while more than 20.3 million have reportedly recovered from infection, according to the latest report Friday by JHU.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the percentage of Americans who do or don't want COVID-19 restrictions to be relaxed in the country.

Americans US COVID-19 restrictions

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates U.S. states with the most COVID-19 cases.

Spread of COVID-19 cases in U.S.