Thomas Macias felt he needed a break after weeks in a self-imposed coronavirus quarantine, NBC News reported.
So the 51-year-old truck driver from Southern California attended a barbecue with friends as the state began to reopen in June, according to KNBC. A few days later, he found out a person at the party had coronavirus but was asymptomatic.
Macias began feeling ill and tested positive for coronavirus June 18, CNN reported. He posted a heartfelt warning to Facebook a few days later.
“I went out a couple of weeks ago … because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy,” he wrote in the June 20 post, CNN reported.
“This has been a very painful experience,” Macias wrote, according to the network. “This is no joke. If you have to go out, wear a mask, and practice social distancing. … Hopefully with God’s help, I’ll be able to survive this.”
Macias died a day later of COVID-19 after being rushed to a hospital and put on a ventilator, KNBC reported.
“I think what he wanted people to know, this is a real thing,” said Gustavo Lopez, his brother-in-law, NBC News reported. “It’s serious, and it kills people.”
Macias, who had diabetes and was overweight — two risk factors for coronavirus patients — had been self-quarantining since the outbreak hit the United States, according to the network. Then he heard about a barbecue being held by his friends.
“It was just one moment for him,” said his niece, Danielle Lopez, KNBC reported. “Because things were becoming so much more lenient, he hadn’t seen his friends for so long, he thought things were getting better and he decided to go see them and so quickly he was taken from us.”
No one at the party wore face masks, The Washington Post reported. It’s not clear how many people attended.
“I really honestly don’t understand why people find it so difficult,” Danielle Lopez said, according to the publication.
A few days later, Macias got a phone call from a friend, NBC News reported.
“Our understanding is that a gentleman had called him and said, ‘Hey I was at the party, I knew I was positive. I didn’t tell anybody,’ ” said Gustavo Lopez, CNN reported. The friend mistakenly thought he couldn’t infect others because he had no symptoms.
“I don’t know if they ever exhibited symptoms and they were feeling better and thought they were over it and it was gone but either way, they still decided to attend this party and not wear a mask,” said Danielle Lopez, KTTV reported.
His family said Macias was upset by the news but blamed himself for breaking quarantine, NBC News reported. In his Facebook post, Macias told friends, “don’t be a (expletive) idiot like me.”
The fun-loving Lake Elsinore man, who never married and had no children, was gone a day later, NBC News reported.
“We wish we could have told him how much we love him. And to be able to say goodbye,” said Danielle Lopez, KNBC reported.
A GoFundMe account established to raise funds for his funeral had collected $16,000 by Thursday afternoon.
“I’m so sorry for your loss. I don’t know Tommy or your family but please take some comfort in knowing that his post will probably save lives,” one donor commented.
“I would never want anybody to have to experience the pain that my family is experiencing right now and it’s so easily avoidable if you just wear a mask,” said Danielle Lopez, KTTV reported.
More than 10.7 million cases of the COVID-19 virus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 516,000 deaths as of Thursday, July 2, according to Johns Hopkins University. The United States has more than 2.6 million confirmed cases with more than 128,000 deaths.
The World Health Organization has declared coronavirus a global pandemic. In the United States, President Donald Trump has declared a national emergency.