LAKE ELSINORE (CBSLA) — Like so many others, Facebook was where 51-year-old Tommy Macias shared the highlights of his life — a life filled with family and fun.
“My uncle posted on Facebook a lot,” Danielle Lopez, Macias’ niece, said. “He liked to keep all his friends updated there.
And it was on Facebook that Macias shared his regret and came to terms with his COVID-19 diagnosis on June 20.
“Because of my stupidity I put my mom and sisters and my family’s health in jeopardy,” he wrote. “This is no joke. If you have to go out wear a mask and practice social distancing. Hopefully with God’s help, I’ll be able to survive this. Love you all.”
By the following day, the Lake Elsinore man known for his big hats and even bigger smile was dead.
“It was just a complete and total shock to all of us,” Lopez said.
She said her uncle had been so careful for months — wearing masks and staying home — but when things started to reopen, she said he went to a backyard party at a friend’s house where nobody was wearing masks.
Days later, one guest tested positive for coronavirus, followed shortly after by Macias. Lopez said his first, and final, thoughts were of those he might have exposed.
“I hate to think that he left worrying about all of us left behind and that he may have potentially infected somebody in our family, even though he didn’t,” she said.
Macias, who was at higher risk because of diabetes, called his mom the morning of June 21 saying he couldn’t breathe. Macias was rushed to the hospital where he died hours later — and three days after learning he had COVID-19.
Now his niece has taken up where he left off, begging others to learn from their heartbreaking loss.
“Everybody needs to take it seriously, regardless of what they believe, what they feel,” Lopez said. “Wearing a mask to be at a grocery store for a couple of minutes is not going to hurt you, but it’ll protect a whole lot of other people.”
Lopez said that, as of Thursday, nobody else in the family had tested positive for the virus.