‘The pain is real’: Hartford families send heartfelt message ahead of Thanksgiving gatherings amid pandemic


HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH)– Hartford families joined Mayor Luke Bronin to share their emotional plea this holiday season, saying what’s at stake could change your life forever.

Clutching at photo of his father, Hiram Otero Jr. said, “the pain is real.”

Otero Jr. is his father’s namesake. He and his brother Joel can only hold these photos close to their hearts this Thanksgiving. Their 69-year-old father lost his life to COVID in May.

“He was full of life. He wanted to live, unfortunately the disease took his life.”

His father worked at a funeral home. They believe he contracted COVID while picking up bodies from infected nursing homes. The brothers are city police officers.

“I wish there was a way I could arrest this virus, but there’s no way,” Otero Jr. jokingly laughed.

Their family and others joined Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin pleading with everyone to stay safe.

Mayor Luke Bronin quoted a newspaper headline, “If we have big Thanksgiving dinners this year, we’re probably gonna have far too many small Christmas funerals.”

Bronin says in the last ten days, seven city residents were taken by the deadly virus.
Overall 182 have died in the pandemic, including Chinequia Bailey’s mother.

Bailey said, “this year it will not be the same. Christmas will not be the same, nor any other holiday because my mom is no longer here.”

Both of these families say keep holiday celebrations to a minimum and wear a mask.

Otero Jr. reminds everyone, “we can only celebrate, educate and talk about it.”

Experts say the safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving is at home with those you live with. Sadly, for these families that is not an option.

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