A 99th birthday celebration in St. Louis turned into a COVID-19 superspreader event when a dozen relatives from across the country came together, according to a new report.
The family met up last month to ring in Ralph Goldsticker’s last year of his 90s, KDFW reported.
His son, Larry Goldsticker, of Plano, Texas, says they tried to take precautions.
“We were very conscious, we thought beforehand,” Larry told the station. “Everyone quarantined ahead of time. My brother and sister-in-law in San Francisco got tested before they got on an airplane.”
But within hours of returning to their respective homes, each one of them — including the nonagenarian and his 3-year-old great nephew — had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Larry also spread the virus to his wife back home in Texas, who did not make the trip — for a total of 13 people infected, KDFW reported.
Larry says he believes one or more of the family members picked up the virus on their way to St. Louis. Some flew and others drove, but they all arrived around the same time.
“No one was ahead of everybody else to say, ‘You were the one,’” he said. “We don’t know where it came from. We all got in from our various places on Friday. Half of us stayed at a hotel, then we were either at my brother’s house who lives in St. Louis or my dad’s house. The only time we left, we went out Saturday night. We had a private room at a restaurant just the 12 of us.”
Larry’s brother in San Francisco was hospitalized overnight for a racing heartbeat, he said.
The family members are mostly now recovered — even 99-year-old Ralph, according to Larry.
“The biggest impact to him was he lost his appetite for about a week and a half,” Larry said. “I talked to him [Monday] and his energy level is not quite back. He’s lost some weight but all in all he’s doing well.”
Although much of the family lives in North Texas, they won’t be getting together for Thanksgiving, Larry said.
“As painful and as hard as it is, it’s not worth the risk,” he said. “We thought we were being smart, we weren’t 100 percent getting it. We got very lucky. It’s everywhere. You just don’t know. So just be smart, be safe and stay healthy.”