Family loses business and 8 family members to COVID-19

October 15, 2020

    A family in Arizona is experiencing a coronavirus nightmare.

    The Aguirre family spent 10 years building up their business, which went from a tamale business out of the back of their minivan to a full-blown food truck and catering company in Phoenix called “Tamales y Taco Puebla.”

    Then, the coronavirus pandemic hit in March.

    Their thriving venture became virtually non-existent as social distancing and quarantine measures were put into place.

    Ricard Aguirre said cooking is in his family’s DNA and the food truck’s signature dish was a family recipe, but even that couldn’t retain customers. As parties and events got cancelled, so did his orders.

    All of the jobs he had scheduled for the upcoming year were gone, along with the customer deposits.

    "My checking account went negative," the 42-year-old told CNN. "It was just like, literally a matter of seconds, when I started seeing my livelihood go away."

    Without any money coming in, the food truck was repossessed and the family lost the prep kitchen that was used to cater meals. Aguirre also applied for a small business loan to help his livelihood stay afloat but was turned down.

    Aguirre was hopeful that the business could get back on its feet by Cinco de Mayo and even started a GoFundMe account to ask for help from the community.

    However, when May rolled around, COVID took its toll on his family. One family member got sick, then another one, until eventually, eight members passed away from the novel virus, including his father.

    "I don't want to cry, because I know God has something better for me," Aguirre said standing in a trailer surrounded by remnants of his once-successful business.

    "I feel so incompetent," he added.

    Aguirre, his wife, his parents, and two of his three sons all tested positive.

    His mother and father were both taken to the hospital and intubated. His father passed away on September 11.

    "It was very hard because we did everything together," he explained, adding, "Forty-two years being by his side."

    While his mother survived, she continues to struggle with pulmonary issues.

    "She's not 100%, she's about 60-65% better, but she's here," he said.

    Aguirre wasn’t sure how everyone became infected since they all wore masks and used hand sanitizer.

    Since the family didn’t have health insurance, they face medical bills that CNN notes near $1 million.

    "It's literally another house payment," Aguirre said about health insurance.

    Aguirre is now weighing his options to rebound from the virus, but taking on other jobs is hard with a pregnant wife and sick mother at home.

    He’s also afraid to invest in his family business again out of fear that it will get shut down due to a second wave of COVID said to be coming in the winter months.

    "So let's say I get another place where I can cook, and I get the permits paid and everything. Influenza season is coming. They say it's going to get worse," Aguirre said.

    Ahead of the birth of his first daughter, who will be named after her grandmother and grandfather, he just wants the strength to carry on.

    "We were ready to have a new baby, because we felt that we were ready financially, and we were ready emotionally to take care of another human being," Aguirre said, adding, "now, with this going on, I just ask God for strength to get me by another day.”

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