Thousands of families nationwide have been struck by Covid-19 during the past 12 months, the contagion sparing some but ravaging others.
In Del Rio, one family was particularly walloped by the virus. Last July, José “Joe” Martinez, a retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant, became ill, and his wife, Tina Martinez, rushed him to Val Verde Regional Medical Center (VVRMC).
Joe was afflicted with respiratory issues, including asthma said Tina.
The 84-year old retiree tested positive for the virus and immediately went into quarantine at the Martinez home. Three days later, Tina got sick and subsequently tested positive. Then her 43-year old son Daniel Cerda became infected with Covid-19.
The invasion of the coronavirus has rocked Val Verde County where 186 deaths have been attributed to the virus along with 7,548 cases as of Feb. 11, 2021, according to the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS).
Virus mutations have now caused new strains that have been found in the United States. Health experts and officials are imploring the public to double down on their masks.
A recently released report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicated that dummies wearing two tightly secured masks in lab tests resulted in a 95% decrease in exposure to infectious aerosols.
CNBC reported that White House Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said in January […] “if you have a physical covering with one layer, you put another layer on, it just makes common sense that it likely would be more effective. That’s the reason why you see people either double masking or doing a version of an N95.”
Joe’s underlying condition didn’t help matters, and both Tina and Daniel had preexisting issues too. “I’m a diabetic, I have high blood pressure, and he (Joe) was always taking care of me for that reason,” she said.
Joe was born in the Acapulco area of Guerrero, Mexico but grew up in Connecticut and then joined the Air Force. He retired to Del Rio and met Tina during the 1980s. They ultimately married. It was the second time for both.
“It was just destiny, I guess,” she said. “Because he was divorced for a year and I had been divorced for a year…it was beautiful.”
Joe settled into retirement, and Tina served on the Del Rio city council for two terms in the early 2000s representing the San Felipe area. Life was good. But then the crown-like virus disrupted their contentment and imposed itself on the family.
Joe’s symptoms did not subside while quarantining at home, and his fever remained intact, so it was decided that he should go back to the hospital. His fever returned to normal during his second stay there, but his oxygen levels were low.
Tina also returned to the VVRMC, going to the emergency room with concerns about how she was feeling. While there, a nurse informed her that Joe had gone into cardiac arrest and passed away. They had been together 35 years.
“He was coming along real good except for that afternoon when he just went downhill and they couldn’t help him,” she said. “They did everything in their power that they could, but they couldn’t help him…they tried everything.”
At the same time, her 43-year old son, Daniel, contracted Covid-19 but never came into contact with his parents Tina said. Two of her three sons have gotten the virus. Daniel was put into intensive care with pneumonia. And exacerbating his condition were blood clots and diabetes. But incredibly, he pulled through.
“The doctor says it’s a miracle,” Tina said. “They didn’t expect him to live. He wasn’t gonna make it.”
Tina’s mother suffered from diabetes, and congestive heart failure and, all three of her siblings died from congestive heart failure. “And I don’t know why, only the good Lord knows why, I do not have a heart condition as of now,” she said.
Many in the world continue the effort of wrapping their heads around this killer virus pandemic, but substantive answers are elusive. Add Tina to that collective.
“That virus, I don’t know…you never know,” she said.