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17 relatives reportedly get COVID-19 after funeral, warn public to honor social distancing measures

(File photo by Richard Baker / In Pictures via Getty Images)

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There are plenty of people who are downplaying the whole social distancing aspect of the coronavirus response, but a British family’s recent experience may serve as a wake up call.

Much of the extended family Sheila Brooks, 86, who died in early February of COVID-19, attended her funeral two weeks ago, and now 17 family members have coronavirus, the New York Post reported, citing the South West News Service.

Within days of the funeral, Brooks’ niece Susan Nelson, 65, died — Nelson reportedly had no underlying health issues.

It didn’t take long before Nelson’s husband, daughter Amanda, 34, a niece and a great-uncle all fell ill. In all sixteen relatives contracted the disease, and all attended Brooks funeral.

“It was my [great] aunt’s funeral so a lot of the wider family were there,” Amanda said.

She suffers from Addison’s disease, an adrenal insufficiency, and is isolating at home, but Amanda pointed to Brooks’ service as a common denominator.

“She died back in February, but we have just had so many people contract the virus that I can only think it was from then,” she said. “We now have someone else in our family in hospital that’s probably not going to survive it.”

“My 21-year-old cousin has it, right the way up to a great-uncle that is 88 and is showing some symptoms,” Amanda explained. “It’s a whole section of us, none of us seems to have been missed out of it just yet. It’s a bit strange.”

Amanda said the Wuhan virus hit both the young and old in her family, and “around 17 family members have been displaying symptoms since going to that funeral.”

“Our beautiful, caring mum was the center of the family,” she said. “We’re a very close, large family and this has destroyed us.”

Nelson’s son Carl, 42, said the family wants others to learn from their experience.

“We can’t have any other families to go through what we are going through at the moment,” he said. “It’s about getting the message out. It’s about seeing the faces of loved ones and thinking this is real.”

Still, there are those who disregard such warnings.

On Monday, a throng of people turned out to watch the arrival of the USNS Comfort in New York City, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., with over 36,000 cases and nearly 800 deaths.

The US Navy hospital ship has 1,000 beds and is now docked in New York Harbor.

Exacerbating the problem of people gather, Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio held a news conference on the pier, which came on the heels of de Blasio threatening that he will permanently close churches to prevent people from coming together, and warned folks fines of $250 to $500 would be imposed for those congregating in public spaces.

Tom Tillison

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