Jessica and Matthew Graham and their five kids were luckily away from their home in the Evergreen State when the Babbs-Malden Fire destroyed about 80 percent of their hometown of Malden, they told CNN.
“We were planning to come back that night, so we didn’t pack a single thing,” Jessica, 38, said of losing everything while being away.
Now homeless, they stayed with Jessica’s parents — not realizing her father was likely infected with the coronavirus, they said.
“My dad became sick with flu-like symptoms,” Jessica told NBC. “So we think there’s a very good chance that we caught it from him, though he was never tested.”
Her mother also tested positive for the contagion after babysitting the kids — Constantine, 12, Claudia, 10, 7-year-old twins Adele and Zoe, and Darius, 5 — but they still ignored their own symptoms.
“We were starting to experience symptoms at that time that we were hoping was just due to hazardous air quality,” Jessica told
“We started having some sinus issues, coughing, but we thought it’s hazardous air and didn’t really think too much of it,” Jessica told NBC, saying they only worried when they started “getting worse instead of better.”
“The nurse asked me if there was a whole group of us with the same last names that had been tested,” Matthew told NBC.
“And I told her, ‘Yeah, there are.’ And she said, ‘Yeah, they’re all positive. Everybody has it.’”
Matthew said he spent a week in bed at a hotel room the family used for isolation. “People don’t adequately describe how miserable coronaviruses are in general,” he told NBC. “Curled up in the fetal position, not moving, that really isn’t a good state to be in.”
They also fear they may have spread it to friends they stayed with for a time after losing their home, including their 14-year-old daughter, who looked “miserable” when they dropped off food for them. “We’re just praying that they’ll all be OK,” Jessica said.
An online fundraiser has now raised almost $50,000 for the family who dreams of building an “amazing new house” to replace the one they lost.
“That’s what keeps us optimistic … we’re gonna just have something that’s even better than what we had before,” Jessica told CNN.