Family of 7 Contracts Coronavirus After Losing Home to Wildfire: 'It's Just Surreal,' Says Mom
Matthew and Jessica Graham, along with their five children, tested positive for COVID-19 after losing their Washington home in a wildfire
An embattled family who recently lost their home in a wildfire is facing more difficulties after all seven of its members contracted the novel coronavirus.
Matthew and Jessica Graham — along with their five children: Constantine, 10, Claudia, twins Zoe and Adele, 7, and Darius, 5 — tested positive for COVID-19 after their house and barn in Malden, Washington, was destroyed by one of the devastating wildfires ravaging across the west coast, The Spokesman-Review reported.
The Grahams started experiencing flu-like symptoms shortly after staying with family following the blaze, according to the outlet. Matthew said he began developing a cough, though he initially thought it was due to the heavy smoke.
Jessica told CBS affiliate KREM TV that her family "caught it from my parents and then we spread it to Matthew's mother," who babysat the children after the fire and later tested positive for COVID-19.
While the children have experienced mild symptoms, Matthew and Jessica said they still continue to suffer from fatigue and partial loss of their sense of taste.
"Before our house burned down, we were being really good about isolating and not having that much contact with other people and wearing masks and stuff," Matthew said. "And this thing is totally miserable and you really do not want to catch coronavirus."
To make matters worse, the Grahams said before testing positive they also unknowingly infected another family after having dinner with the household of nine.
"It’s horrible realizing that they reached out to us and have been so welcoming to us, and we spread it [coronavirus] to them," Jessica said.
The Grahams have since quarantined themselves at a hotel in Spokane Valley, putting a damper on their plans to find a new home.
"At this point, we really don’t have any plans. All that we have are questions that lead to more questions, and no answers anywhere to be found," Matthew said.
The Grahams left their house on Labor Day not knowing that a wildfire would shortly burn through their property, according to a GoFundMe page set up in support of the family. "By the time they received news of the mandatory evacuation, it was too late to return home to collect their things," a description for the page read.
Though the fundraiser said in an update that the family recently learned that their dog and chickens survived the fire, they "are having to completely start over" after losing all of their belongings.
"It’s just surreal, like being in a bad dream and you’re like, this can’t be real," Jessica told Q13 FOX.
Still, the Grahams said they're keeping their heads up during this trying time.
“This will be a year that we look back on and we’ll all probably be vastly stronger people for it," said Matthew.
"At least for us, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, and I’ve explained to the kids they should be grateful because there is a light at the end of the tunnel and we just need to get there and not everybody has a light at the end of their tunnel."
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.