Dallas Man Mourns Loss of Grandfather to COVID-19, Warns Against Family Gatherings

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Some families are opting to reunite after months of separation.

An Oak Cliff family said they believe their own gatherings may have led to a terrible loss.

One family member and an area doctor are both cautioning the public of so-called "super-spreader events."

Sabino Acosta Molina was a bracero -- a manual laborer -- in the 1960s.

He was also a doting grandfather who agreed to be featured in his filmmaker grandson’s movie in Oak Cliff more recently.

“Very hard-working," Jesse Acosta said. “I don’t think that man ever took a day off.”

But the strong 83-year-old, with only high blood pressure, was no match for the coronavirus.

“He was complaining about not being able to breathe well,” Acosta said. “When we called the ambulance, he couldn’t move. They had to carry him out.”

The family said their goodbyes via FaceTime less than a month later.

Their heartbreak, however, is not over.

Acosta’s grandmother, Angelina, contracted the virus as well.

She’s in hospice care, Acosta said.

He said she’s improving but is unaware her husband of 66 years is gone.

“We’re going to have to tell her one day and we don’t know how we’re going to go about it,” he said.

What is also devastating is retracing where the elderly couple and up to 10 family members may have contracted the virus.

“We believe they ultimately ended up catching COVID-19 from going to family gatherings,” Acosta said. “We’re not sure which family gathering but can just assume that it had to be one of those family gatherings because they were not going to the story, they were not riding the bus, they were not getting groceries.”

Dr. Mark Casanova, president of the Dallas County Medical Society, spoke with NBC 5 about so-called "super-spreader events."

“Whenever we hear a circumstance where a large number of individuals, sometimes in a family unit, are infected by a single event, what we refer to that is a super-spreader event,” Casanova said.

He said a large percentage of COVID-19 cases are linked to intimate interactions with loved ones, like dinner parties where face coverings typically aren’t worn.

“They are spreading a much larger degree of the virus than the average person does,” he said of super spreaders. “For all of us, our viral levels that we have the ability to shed or to spread typically peak one to two days before we become symptomatic.”

In retrospect, if super spreaders are around other individuals in those two days prior to showing symptoms, there is a risk of viral spread, he said.

Both Casanova and Acosta said it’s not about placing blame, but rather mitigating the risks.

“We have to be super-mindful and super careful until we get to a point where we have better control of this pandemic and this virus,” Casanova said.

If you live with someone who is considered "high risk" for complications if they contract the virus, Acosta urges families to rethink gatherings for now.

The family has set up a fundraiser to help with funeral costs.

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