12 members of Allentown family diagnosed with COVID-19; 4 have died

ALLENTOWN, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- The Fernandez family in Allentown, Pennsylvania recently celebrated the 85th birthday of their matriarch Orfa, affectionately known as Orfita.

They also celebrated her recovery from COVID-19 which loved ones say was nothing short of a miracle, especially when you consider the toll the pandemic has had on this family.

At least 12 members of their extended family have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Four have died.

Michelle Vera said her family is now mourning the loss of her beloved uncle, Luis Vera.

"His loss was very difficult for us. Watching my father, even myself - I get emotional just thinking about it," Vera said.

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And the death of Luis Vera is only the beginning.

The spread of the virus is not contained to the many family members who live in Allentown.

Vera said members of her family in Brooklyn, and even in their native Ecuador, have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

And so, as they celebrate Orfita's survival after three weeks in the hospital, they mourn for their loved ones lost and have a message for people who are not taking the pandemic seriously.

"They have to stay very mindful. There are people, like ourselves, that have lost many family members and are still recovering," Vera said.

The Fernandez family is doing all they can to stay apart, keeping one another informed via Zoom and social media. They are praying the worst is over.
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