EL PASO, Texas -- An elected member of the El Paso Community College Board of Trustees put out an urgent and highly emotional public plea Friday for El Pasoans to avoid holiday weekend mass gatherings, practice social distancing and wear face masks.
The reason for her plea?
Bonnie Soria Najera, who is EPCC's district 7 trustee for the Lower Valley, tells ABC-7 that the cornavirus claimed the life of her mother on Friday afternoon and is now threatening to take her father's life too.
Her mother, Rosie Soria, had been on a ventilator. Her father, Leo Soria, remains hospitalized in intensive care and was placed on a ventilator within an hour after his wife passed away.
Najera tells ABC-7 she doesn't want any other El Paso family to have to endure the tragic loss that she has.
She said "pain, anger, frustration and sadness" are among the emotions she's feeling. "I wasn’t able to be there with either one of my parents. It’s just hard."
Why is she feeling anrgy?
"Because people aren’t taking this seriously," she said of the virus restrictions and social distancing guidelines. "They’re not taking it seriously. They’re not staying home. They want to go out, have drinks. It’s just frustrating people aren’t taking this seriously."
Najera continued, telling ABC-7...
"You might think 'I’m just going to go visit my mom because I haven’t seen her in so long.' Your mom could be the one affected, your dad could be the one affected. I didn’t visit my parents. I put fruit and vegetables on their fence. No hospital visit – my mom just passed away about an hour ago and I just got a call about 15 minutes ago that they’re going to put my dad on a ventilator."
"It’s not just about you! It’s everybody else that you affect. It’s about other families. It’s not just me, my sister has Lupus. I can’t console her. I can’t be there for her and I know she’s not okay. --- It’s not just about being selfish and wanting to have a drink and have a cookout. 'Oh, it’s okay. It’s just my sister, she hasn’t gone anywhere.' There’s no such thing. This is the thing we don’t know enough about. The doctors don’t know enough about it. The doctors are telling me 'we don’t know.'"
"Is it really affecting you that much to not be out, to not have a picnic/drink with friends? Maybe in a month, a year, I’ll be able to have that drink, that party, that get together. But I don’t get to have that with my parents anymore. That could happen to you as well. You don’t want that. We don’t want anyone else to go through what we’re going through. Just stay home. It’s just a little while longer. Let the doctors figure out what’s going on. Let them figure out how they can help everybody."
Najera said her mother Rosie was "the last person" she thought could get taken down by the virus. "That’s what I told my family, 'she’s gonna fight it. She’s a fighter.' (But) it brought her down."
"She was strong, she was really strong. Very witty, very hard-headed," Najera explained.
She describes her father Leo, a security guard at Carroll T. Welch Elementary School in Clint, as a "very outgoing jokester" who is loved by the school's students and teachers alike.
"The teachers are sending me messages that they’re so sorry, that they’re there for him. The principal and superintendent called me too," said Najera. "He’s loved. I’m hoping he can fight it, but we all know what the odds are right now with the ventilators."
She said Friday, like this entire ordeal, has been both "frustrating" and "hard."
As a result, she implores others to "Stay home! Love your families from afar. Just stay home so this doesn’t happen to anybody else."
Earlier Friday, before her mother had passed away, Najera posted the following on social media, "If you are thinking of having a get together with friends and family or are invited to a gathering for Memorial Day weekend I’d like for you to think of this..."
"Both my parents are in ICU with Covid-19. They were being extremely careful and were still infected by this horrible virus. My mom is on a ventilator and her heart is weakening rapidly. I was asked to make a hard decision yesterday on whether or not to resuscitate her if her heart stops. My dad has pneumonia on top of Covid-19 and is on the verge of being put on a ventilator."
She continued in her post... "I ALWAYS try to help people in their time of need and there’s NOTHING I can do for my parents. You can’t possibly imagine how that feels. They are ALONE! (Let that sink in)."
"You might really want to see your friends and family, Want to get out and enjoy a restaurant or have a party. When you make your CHOICE on what to do this weekend, please CHOOSE to STAY HOME! You don’t want to get sick or be making the kind of decisions I’m having to make right now! Our family is hurting. We don’t want anyone else to go through this!"