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Families with COVID-19 experience urge others to heed CDC warnings about holiday gatherings

Experts want people to think twice about meeting in big groups for the holidays.

INDIANAPOLIS — Alicia Murray and her family have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. 

“We managed to survive this virus," Alicia said. "Even in the midst of this pandemic, we have been blessed and I’m just glad we’re still alive.”

In March, Alicia, her three daughters and husband Gene, all got COVID-19. Gene got so sick he had to be hospitalized. He’s better now and so are the girls, but some of Alicia’s symptoms linger. 

“I’m considered what’s called a long hauler,” Alicia said. She still has trouble with her senses of smell and taste. 

That’s why the Murrays are staying put for Thanksgiving and not hosting family this year. 

“We’re playing it safe, simply because we know what can happen firsthand, and we’re considered the lucky ones. We’re very fortunate that we didn’t have anyone pass away,” said Alicia. 

Regina Tandy did, though. Her mother Juanita died of COVID-19 in April. She was 86. 

“I’m so used to coming home and she’s there, fixing the sweet potato pies and the turkey,” Regina said. 

She and her mom lived together. Regina got the virus first but couldn’t afford to quarantine elsewhere. Then her mom got sick.

“Her COVID was horrible,” Regina recalled. 

The burden of knowing her mom likely caught COVID from her weighs heavily on Regina. 

“I wouldn’t wish that on any one person, no one,” she said. 

The CDC has advised people to think twice about gathering in big groups for the holidays, fearing more outbreaks if people ignore the warnings. 

Regina agrees. 

“I just want everyone to be safe for the holidays because you want to sit across from your family member next year and see that they’re alive,” she said. 

Alicia Murray also feels a big gathering is just not worth the risk. 

“I would rather pick up the phone and say, ‘Hi mom, hi dad. Happy Thanksgiving,’” Alicia said. 

It’s not ideal, but neither is the risk of losing someone she loves.    

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