SAN JOSE, Calif. - On Wednesday, Governor Newsom urged people to rethink family gatherings for their Fourth of July weekend plans. One San Jose family doesn’t want people to take the warning lightly after losing two family members to COVID-19.
“Thinking about going through the rest of my life without my parents is really hard to imagine,” said Naomi Hartwig who lost her parents to COVID-19.
Naomi Hartwig is having a difficult time coming to terms with the loss of not one parent but both. A small shrine sits in her apartment. The coronavirus took the lives of 72-year-old Richard and 61-year-old Mercedes Hartwig. They were married for 33 years and leave behind three children.
“My mom got sick first and obviously we didn't think it would be that serious,” said Naomi Hartwig.
Naomi’s parents contracted the virus early on in the pandemic. Her father passed away first back in April. Then, Naomi's mother died one week later. The virus sickened at least five other family members. It’s unclear how they all got COVID-19.
“My mom and my aunt had attended a family gathering maybe a few days before my mom got sick,” said Naomi Hartwig. “It could have been from a family gathering.”
“I hope you'll reconsider those gatherings with people you do not live with, that are not in your immediate household,” said Governor Newsom.
On Wednesday, Governor Newsom urged Californians to not let their guard down this upcoming holiday. For a time, it wasn’t clear if Naomi's 51-year-old aunt was going to survive. She was in the ICU for months.
“I couldn't breathe,” said Claudia Meza, Naomi’s aunt. “I couldn't talk. My chest was hurting a lot. They kept giving me medication.”
Back at home now, the aunt is dealing with memory and hair loss, PTSD and panic attacks.
“If you don't know where your extended family has been or you're together in close proximity without masks,” said Naomi Hartwig. “I feel it heightens the risk factor.”
Last Fourth of July, like most holidays, Naomi went to her parent’s house. This year, she’s thinking of paying a visit to the cemetery.
“It’s not worth the risk to have to watch your family or your loved ones have to suffer through a horrible virus,” said Naomi Hartwig.
One of the hardest parts for the children was the funeral process. They weren't able to honor their father, a Vietnam veteran, the way they would have liked.
A GoFundMe page has been established to help pay for the aunt's medical bills.