Texas man with coronavirus infects 17 relatives at surprise birthday party

It was a very happy 104th birthday for World War II veteran William Lapschies on Wednesday. (Hillary Levin/St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

A family in North Texas was in for more than one surprise when they discovered a nephew had unknowingly infected 17 of them with the new coronavirus at a recent birthday party.

The man, who later tested positive for COVID-19, interacted with seven others at a May 30 gathering before those family members interacted with 10 more, further spreading the virus

Now 18 so far have contracted the illness, including two children, four seniors and a cancer patient.

Ron Barbosa, the man’s uncle, didn’t attend the party but told ABC8 that he’s keeping track of everyone who did and has tested positive. He said the nephew -- who hosted the event and played golf with family beforehand -- brushed off a cough as a result of working in construction.

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"It wasn't that long. It was only a couple of hours," Barbosa, a volunteer EMT, said of the party. "But during that brief time, somehow the other 18 family members are now infected.”

Three of those with the illness are still in the hospital: Barbosa’s 80-year-old parents and his sister with breast cancer. His dad is in the ICU on life support and close to needing a ventilator.

The news comes as COVID-19 cases surge in new hotspots across the country, including Texas, which just added 55,125 cases to its near-132,000 total. Around 2,207 people have died.

Gov. Greg Abbott announced Thursday that the state would pause its planned reopening while still allowing for some activity under specified health guidelines and safety practices, explaining in a statement that “the last thing we want to do as a state is [to] go backwards.”

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