18 family members get COVID-19 after holiday gathering in Pennsylvania

ByDann Cuellar WPVI logo
Tuesday, January 19, 2021

MILMONT PARK, Pennsylvania -- A family's holiday party in Pennsylvania turned out to be its own superspreader event.

It was on Dec. 26 that 55-year-old Darlene Reynolds woke up with a scratchy tickle in her throat. This was one day before she was planning to have family members come over from as far as Canada for a holiday gathering.

"I had no fever because I kept checking it - no fever, no fever, no fever. I said, 'I'll keep a distance since I have a tiny little cough,'" said Reynolds.

The next day, family members arrived for the party. Soon, she said, people started getting sick.

"So we were sick, but we didn't know we had COVID. We could've had the flu, but it was scary," said Reynolds. "We got tested, and we tested positive. And then my husband tested positive the next day. And then (my daughter) was getting sick and she tested positive and my son tested positive."

In all, 18 family members ranging in ages from one to 62 became sickened with the virus.

Reynolds' son and husband, Stephen, ended up in the hospital, where he has spent the last nine days.

"He's headed in the right direction. He'll need oxygen when he comes home," said Reynolds' daughter, Joy Purdie.

Meanwhile, Stephen's business, called Mini Movers, got sidelined when their truck broke down and now they have no income.

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Lisa Riggin of J. Riggin Painting saw the story on Facebook and decided to step in.

"The truck's been down for a month and they haven't had income and I just don't want to see them lose their home or their business," said Riggin, who set up Venmo and PayPal accounts on her Facebook to raise money for the family.

"People are donating, not as much as I would like, but people are responding. We had a guy last night who donated $500. He doesn't even know me or her," said Riggin.

So far, Riggin has raised $4,000 for the Reynolds who are ever grateful for all the help they can get.