Once a coronavirus skeptic, he's now warning others about the severity of the virus.

By Taylyn Washington-Harmon
October 14, 2020
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Texas man Tony Green, 43, was once a coronavirus skeptic, questioning whether the pandemic was even real. Then in June, he hosted a small family gathering of six people in his Dallas home—which eventually led to his own COVID-19 hospitalization, the infection of 14 relatives, and the deaths of two others.

Before he and his family came down with the virus, "I told myself [COVID-19] wouldn’t be that bad: 'It’s the flu. It’s basically just the flu,'" Green said in an October 10 Washington Post interview. But family members who attended the gathering began falling ill. "Six infections turned into nine. Nine went up to 14. It spread from one family member to the next, and it was like each person caught a different strain," he continued.

Green himself later ended up in the hospital for three days as he battled the virus. Both Green’s 52-year-old father-in-law and his father-in-law’s mother died of of COVID-19 complications following the gathering.

Green admits he feels responsible. “The feeling that I have is kind of like what a drunk driver would have if they killed their family,” Green told CNN on October 13, expressing remorse for denying the severity of the coronavirus.

Of course, this isn't the first time a family gathering resulted in a COVID-19 outbreak. In July, a 13-year-old girl ended up infecting 11 family members across four states while on a family vacation. Similarly, 18 members of a Texas family tested positive for COVID-19 after attending a surprise party for "only a couple of hours."

As much as he enjoyed seeing his family at the time, Green cautions other families not to host gatherings, especially as the holiday season starts to approach. "Take a little bit of extra precaution," Green advised on CNN. "If you're nervous about it, I don't say to don't be afraid of it, I think that you've got a reason to be afraid of it. I think maybe you should bow out this year."

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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