Dr. Abhishek Patel, who works in the hospital’s pediatric I.C.U., walked in and out of a room where a 6-month-old and a 2-month-old were battling severe Covid-19 infections and were breathing with the aid of supplemental oxygen. This week alone, he said, two teenagers, who had other underlying health problems, succumbed to the virus.
In a room nearby, Cerena Gonzales, 14, moaned in pain. Last week, she was an excited teenager looking forward to starting her freshman year in high school. On Tuesday, she was surrounded by hospital equipment. She and her younger sister got sick after their parents, Carlos Gonzales, 47, and his wife Elizabeth, 42, began developing Covid symptoms and were taken to the hospital. None of them had been vaccinated, Ms. Gonzales said.
“We hesitated,” Ms. Gonzales said. “We were all a healthy family.”
As soon as she was discharged, Ms. Gonzales, still breathing with the aid of two portable oxygen tanks, rushed to her daughter’s side. She caressed her daughter’s forehead and tried to keep her upbeat. She recalled in tears the harrowing scene days earlier when doctors put her on a speakerphone so that she could hear as her daughter was intubated. “I thought I was going to lose my mind,” Ms. Gonzales said. “I could not be there with her.”
By Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Gonzales said she believed the worst of the crisis was over. She untangled her daughter’s thick black hair from IV tubes and gently encouraged her to drink orange juice.
Several members of her family had been ravaged by the virus, she said, and so she now plans to organize a family excursion to get vaccinated. “There is no reason any parent should go through this,” she said.
Nearby, Anne Marie Baker, a pediatric nurse, had the grim task of cleaning a room where just moments earlier a teenager had died from the virus. Ms. Baker took off her masks and slumped into a chair to catch her breath. Children under 12, who do not yet qualify for a vaccine, are most at risk, she said.
“In the last two months, we just had all of these patients,” she said. “It’s just so sad.”