A Ohio family is reminding people to stay home when they don't feel well after their grandmother contracted COVID-19 while playing cards with friends—including one attendee who hid the fact that they had COVID-19. The grandmother, 82-year-old Barbara Bartolovich, later died from the virus.
Bartolovich's granddaughter Lauren Nash told ABC's Detroit affiliate WXYZ that her grandmother took a lot of precautions during the pandemic, including getting vaccinated and only socializing with people who were also being safe about COVID.
Nash said that Bartolovich decided to go to a card game with friends, but only after making sure that everyone who would be there was vaccinated. But one card player had tested positive for COVID-19 and didn't tell anyone.
"Somebody decided that testing positive for COVID is something they can hide," Nash said. "The only way we found out is that the person owned up after Nana got sick."
While Bartolovich was vaccinated, she had a weakened immune system due to being a blood cancer survivor, Nash says. After catching COVID-19, Bartolovich was hospitalized and put on a ventilator. She died on December 21.
"She was just everything to everyone. As everyone says, if you knew Barb, 10 facts about penicillin you were loved," Nash told WXYZ. "She was taken too soon." According to Bartolovich's obituary, she was the mother of four, grandmother to 10, and great-grandmother to five.
Nash isn't publicly revealing her grandmother's friend's name out of respect for their privacy, but she stresses that people should be aware that their decisions around COVID-19 safety can have serious—and sometimes deadly—consequences.
Nash is now asking people to stay home when they have symptoms of COVID-19. "It is not worth it," she said. "It is not worth knowing you hurt someone, potentially hurt someone, or killed someone because you want to go out and have fun. I am just horrified at where we are and what is going on, that we are not taking into account people's lives."
Staying home if you are sick or have COVID is also the recommendation that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) makes. At the time of the card game, CDC guidance was that people who've developed symptoms or test positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, should isolate for 10 days.
That guidance has since changed, with the CDC now recommending that people who test positive for COVID-19 isolate for five days. If they don't have symptoms or their symptoms are resolving, including being fever-free for 24 hours, they should follow that by wearing a mask for five days when they're around others to reduce the risk of passing on the infection. "The change is motivated by science demonstrating that the majority of SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness, generally in the one to two days prior to onset of symptoms and the two to three days after," CDC officials said in a media statement on December 27.
Besides encouraging people to abide by the recommendations, the family is also using this time to remember the matriarch, describing her in her obituary as "a little firecracker" who "was always raring to go for family gatherings, vacations and impromptu outings." "She was [the family's] support system throughout life and she taught them many lessons," the obituary said. "…Barbara will greatly be missed by her family and they will carry her wonderful memory in their hearts forever."
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