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Caring for the family

First slide

Jennifer Argueta, a parishioner of Good Shepherd Church in Alexandria, became the caregiver for her entire family earlier this year when her parents and brother tested positive for COVID-19.

Everything was normal at the Argueta household in Alexandria until her brother started developing a cough, she said. At the time, she said they didn’t think much of it. It was allergy season, after all.

When the cough persisted for multiple days, his mother encouraged him to get tested for COVID-19.

He tested positive.

“We were shocked by the news — we did not know what to do next,” Jennifer said in Spanish. “Then we calmed down and began to pray and ask God to guide us.”

The brother then left to quarantine elsewhere, leaving his child at the house under the care of the family.

That same night, the boy developed a fever. He was tested for COVID-19 and “thank God it was negative,” Jennifer said.

Shortly afterward, Jennifer’s mother began feeling ill. She had “breathing problems, a lot of headaches and could not sleep,” Jennifer said. Both Jennifer and her mother got tested. Her mother tested positive, and she tested negative.

Since the majority of the household had direct exposure to the virus, the family decided it would be prudent if her father also was tested for COVID-19. Despite being asymptomatic, he also tested positive for the virus.

Everyone had to be separated in different bedrooms.

“During this time, I had to take care of everyone,” Jennifer said. “It was a very difficult time, since I had to cook and take care of everyone, including my nephew. I cooked and left their food at the door of their bedrooms, without any kind of contact. I had to protect myself by wearing a mask and gloves constantly.”

Her parents’ conditions began to worsen. Friends delivered meals to their door and helped in other ways, she said.

Just when she was feeling most alone, she said her faith in God sustained her.

“Prayer helped us a lot — my mother kept the Catholic channel on 24 hours, because she is a person full of faith and hope,” Jennifer said. “I watched the Masses of Father (Jose E.) Hoyos, prayed the rosary. This helped me to keep the faith, because if I got stressed it would not help my health, and I had to be strong for all of them who needed me.”

Jennifer said in particular she prayed for the Virgin Mary’s intercession.

The Argueta family has since recovered from the virus, as Jennifer said, “Thanks to God.” 

Read the entire "Faces of COVID" series, here.

Riedl can be reached at matthew.riedl@arlingtondiocese.org or Twitter @RiedlMatt.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020