PHILADELPHIA (CBS/CNN) — A New Jersey nurse said it took one family member letting their guard down “for one second” for COVID-19 to infect seven of the eight people in her household. Sofia Burke spoke with CNN’s Don Lemon through an oxygen mask Wednesday.

(credit: CNN)

She said she had been treating coronavirus patients throughout the pandemic, but now she and members of her family — from her 2-year-old diabetic daughter to her now-deceased 98-year-old father — are among the more than 13.9 million people who have been infected with the coronavirus in the United States.

In light of the recent surge in cases, hospitalizations and deaths, health experts have cautioned that gathering for the holidays could make things much worse. And Burke is now among those urging Americans to take the virus seriously.

“We’re fighting a virus, we’re fighting a pandemic that will kill us,” she said. “We need to fight together to save our individual families.”

Her family’s infections began with an act of kindness, Burke said. Her mother gave a ride to an elderly, sick friend who said she had a cold.

It turned out to be coronavirus, Burke said.

“My mother let her guard down for one moment,” Burke said. “And in that swift moment my entire family was affected.”

Now, Burke is struggling to do things as simple as breathing. Her 2-year-old daughter suffered high fevers. Her son and older daughter felt sick. Her mother is at home with oxygen and unable to breathe on her own after six days in the hospital, she said.

And her father died from the virus while on a ventilator.

“I understand that everybody needs to survive, and I understand that financial hardship is real, too, and painful,” she said. “But … wouldn’t you want to walk away with your family alive, healthy, without nerve damage?”

“You don’t want to spend the money you have on funerals and burying your loved ones”

New Jersey reported over 4,900 new coronavirus cases on Thursday.

(©Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company contributed to this report.)

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