Lydia and Lawrence Rodriguez had been careful about COVID-19, a relative said Tuesday.
They and their four children had stayed home often over the past year or more and wore masks when they went out, Dottie Jones, Lydia Rodriguez’s cousin, said.
“They weren’t careless,” Jones said. “They quarantined. They masked. But they didn’t get the vaccine.”
The two were hospitalized about three weeks ago after the entire family tested positive for COVID-19.
Lawrence Rodriguez died Monday after a week in intensive care, Jones said.
The Rodriguez family’s experience illustrates what national and local health authorities have been warning for weeks — that the vast majority of people, more than 99 percent, hospitalized for and who die from COVID-19 infection are unvaccinated.
Jones, also a La Marque resident, has been sharing her cousin’s story in hopes more people will decide to get vaccinated and to try to raise money for the couple’s four children, she said.
“This false information; this narrative is causing people like my cousins, who are already fearful, to become more fearful and make these really dangerous, life-threatening decisions,” Jones said.
Lawrence Rodriguez’s transfer to intensive care last week shocked the family because he’d taken Lydia to the hospital July 12 as her condition worsened, Jones said. The hospital admitted Lawrence, too, she said.
“All of a sudden, he took a drastic turn and within an hour was in the ICU and was intubated,” Jones said.
Lydia Rodriguez, who was immediately put in intensive care, also was intubated, Jones said.
“She’s still very critical,” Jones said. “She’s still on very high vent settings.”
Although the family isn’t sure, Jones suspects the family contracted COVID-19 from a small church youth camp the children attended, she said.
The children, 18-year-old twins, a 16-year-old and an 11-year-old, also tested positive for COVID-19, but had either no or mild symptoms, she said.
Jones, a nurse practitioner, hadn’t talked with her cousin very much about COVID-19 vaccines, she said. Lydia Rodriguez had always been hesitant and distrustful of vaccines and medicines, Jones said.
“I don’t know where the fear stemmed from,” Jones said. “She was just very leery of medications and vaccines. The kids have had some vaccines but not all of them.”
At the beginning of the pandemic, Jones spent a lot of time on social media promoting mask wearing and disputing false information, she said.
“I just got tired of arguing with people,” Jones said.
But after her cousin’s experience, friends who’ve opposed vaccines have told Jones they plan to get inoculated, she said.
As of Tuesday, 54.5 percent, about 156,938, of the 287,908 Galveston County residents 12 or older had been fully vaccinated, according to Texas Department of State Health Services data. About 62.3 percent of the state is fully vaccinated.
Jones blames false information for the hesitancy about getting vaccinated. Before she was intubated, Lydia Rodriguez asked a family member to tell her children to get vaccinated, Jones said.
“It was the misinformation that was out there that led them to that choice,” Jones said. “That just shows how strong that false narrative can impact people. What a high price they can pay.”
As of Tuesday, Lydia Rodriguez still was in intensive care.
“We’re just praying really hard for a miracle that she’ll survive and survive with some quality of life,” Jones said. “Right now, it’s day by day.”
Jones opened up a GoFundMe page to try to raise money to pay for some of the children’s expenses, she said.