For many, the idea of the holidays without family is simply impossible to bear, but so is the idea of bringing a potentially deadly virus home.

In the South Bay, one family has found a way to bring loved ones from around the country together and make their gatherings as safe as possible. Their solution? A quarantine cabana.

The small but well-equipped cabana is located at Isabel Velez’s aunt’s home in San Jose. Velez just returned home from college in Portland, Oregon.

“I actually drove back here 10 hours just because I didn’t want to get on an airplane and just being in close proximity with somebody else that I didn’t know where they were at,” she said.

Velez said during her two-week pre-holiday quarantine, she’ll stand on the cabana doorstep to get fresh air, always wearing a mask.

“Sometimes I just need to talk to somebody,” she said.

Andres Rocha returned from Fordham University before Thanksgiving. To make sure he didn’t bring the virus home to family, he spent the holiday in the cabana.

“I came and I quarantined for exactly two weeks,” he said. “Lived in there, just hung out, did my homework, watched TV and just spent time in there by myself.”

The two spent time in the cabana all to protect the family they want so desperately to see during the holiday season, like their elderly grandmother.

For Marisa Garcia, two weeks in the cabana was about getting to see her dad, who is still recovering from a heart transplant and doesn’t have the strongest immune system.

“I don’t want to be the reason that one of my loved ones ends up in the hospital or dies,” she said. “So it was an easy decision. It wasn’t a hard choice to make.”

Kim Rocha thoroughly cleans the cabana after each family member quarantines inside.

“If we think about it in a way where if I can give my family a gift of having more Christmases from this point forward, together, then I’ll do it,” she said. “I’ll do what it takes.”

For Valez, some patience will be required before she’s finally able to hug her mom and dad again.

“Yes, I can’t wait to get home,” she said.

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By Arlene Huff

Arlene Huff is the founding member of Golden State Online. Before that She was a general assignment reporter. A native Californian, she graduated from the University of California with a degree in medical anthropology and global health. She currently lives in Los Angeles.

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