When Mireya Pérez González began to see that the global coronavirus outbreak was a serious problem, she tried to protect herself as much as she could. She closed her flower shop in Los Angeles, stopped visiting family members, and stocked up on provisions so she wouldn’t have to leave home.
But she still became infected with COVID-19.
By March 24, the mother of three girls, ages 4, 11 and 14, began to have a dry cough, fever and diarrhea. That was when she decided to make the trip to UCI Medical Center in Orange County.
“In the hospital, they told me that I had to stay under observation because my symptoms were severe. I refused to think that I could have [the] coronavirus, but another part of me was very scared and said that I did have it,” the 32-year-old Carson resident said.
One day after being hospitalized, she received the diagnosis she did not want to hear.
“I felt that a bucket of cold water was thrown at me. ‘Madam, you tested positive,’ the doctor told me. I was very afraid. I thought I could die, that my daughters would be left without their mother. So what was going to happen to them?”
Pérez González, who is originally from Mexico, burst into tears. Her life was at risk, since she also has liver disease and diabetes.
With the doctor’s assessment, the young mother had to make several decisions, including whether to tell everyone she’d been in contact with that she was sick, and whether to make videos for her family in case she didn’t pull through.
“I wrote a letter to about 25 people telling them what I was suffering from. It was a difficult decision because many people, especially Latinos, do not know how to face the diagnosis because we are afraid of what others will say, of the criticism, or if they will kick us out of a job,” said Pérez González.
There were people who reacted with annoyance to the news, others who were outraged, but the mother felt she had to do it.
Pérez González also thought about her daughters, and decided to record videos.
“I told my daughters that their father, [my husband], was going to protect them no matter what happened to me. I also told them that I would always be with them.”
In one recording, she asked her husband and a brother to take care of the children.
“They are my motivation, my life. They are small and they need me,” she said.
Six days after being in the hospital, she was discharged, but she worsened at home. Pérez González was admitted to the hospital again before being released earlier this week.
“I decided to tell my elder daughter that I had COVID-19 because she already understands a little more than her sisters. My heart broke when she said to me, ‘Mommy, if you die, I want to die with you.’ Now I’m being strong with them. “
More than two weeks after receiving her diagnosis, Pérez González still does not know how she contracted the disease. In early March, when people stopped asking for flower arrangements for parties and gatherings, she closed her store. Her wish was to stay calm at home with her family, although she went shopping at various stores to stock up.
“If you ask me if I ever thought I would get COVID-19, I will tell you that it never crossed my mind. I am a strong and hardworking person. In the first days of the symptoms, I started to feel tired and lost my sense of smell, but I did not think that I could catch it.”
With the disease continuing to escalate in the number of cases and deaths, she said, she has learned that even if they do not have symptoms, people should take the threat of the virus very seriously.
“We do not have to go outside if it is not necessary,” Pérez González said. “By protecting ourselves, and saying what we are going through, we can save families and many lives.”
For now, Pérez González’s husband cares for the girls and cooks for them, while their mother is isolated in a room so as not to infect the family.
“I am afraid of infecting them, but we are taking all measures to prevent it from happening,” she said. “I don’t know what my future will be like, but I have faith that there will be no need for my daughters to watch those videos.”