Four members of New Jersey family die after contracting coronavirus

The victims came into contact with New Jersey's first coronavirus-related fatality John Brennan just days before at a family gathering. The family "can’t even mourn the way you would.”

People wait in their cars for being tested at a new drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey (photo credit: REUTERS)
People wait in their cars for being tested at a new drive-thru coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing center at Bergen Community College in Paramus, New Jersey
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Four members of a single family in central New Jersey have reportedly passed away from resulting complications after contracting the coronavirus.
The victims, 73-year-old Grace Fusco and three of her children – Rita Fusco-Jackson, Carmine Fusco and Vinscent Fusco – fell ill shortly after returning from a large family gathering on March 3, which was attended by a person who had come into contact with New Jersey's first coronavirus-related fatality John Brennan just days before.
Three other relatives, also children of Mrs. Fusco, are currently still in hospital, two of whom are in critical condition. Around 20 others remain in self-isolation awaiting diagnostic test results to determine if they tested positively for COVID-19. Mrs. Fusco had 11 children total.
“If they’re not on a respirator, they’re quarantined,” said the family's lawyer Roseann Paradiso Fodera, according to the New York Times. “It is so pitiful. They can’t even mourn the way you would.”
Mrs. Fusco's daughter, Rita, 55, passed away last Friday in hospital. The family had learned posthumously that she had contracted the virus and died from complications related to COVID-19. She reportedly had no underlying health conditions, according to state health commissioner Judith M. Persichilli.
Her eldest son, Carmine, died on Wednesday a few days after his sister Rita. Mrs. Fusco herself spent Wednesday "gravely ill," breathing from a ventilator until she herself passed away later that night. Her other son, Vincent, died the next day after his mother and two siblings.
Mrs. Fusco reportedly died without knowing that her two other children had passed away prior to her death, according to the New York Times.
Paradiso Fodera asserted that the Tuesday dinner was just a routine gathering for those involved. Following the outbreak within the family, however, Persichilli sharpened instructions for New Jersey citizens, requesting them to avoid even small get togethers with friends or relatives during this time.
“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take personal responsibility and to avoid even small gatherings,” the health commissioner said at a press conference on Sunday.
Medical officials at the CentraState Medical Center, where Mrs. Fusco and four of her children were being treated for COVID-19, are currently discussing the unique effect the virus has had on this one family in particular with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the New Jersey Health Commission, to determine whether there is anything they can ascertain about the virus by delving deeper into the family's medical histories.
“I don’t know if it’s a strain thing,” said Dr. James Matera, chief medical officer at CentraState. “I would consider these particular people to be unusual.”
Gabby Cartagena, a relative of the family and granddaughter to Mrs. Fusco, posted her heart-rending account of watching her family members succumb to the virus one by one on her Facebook page, according to NBC.
“My mom is one of 11; last Thursday I went to sleep having 10 aunts and uncles! Friday I woke up and found out I only had 9. Just a few minutes ago I found out I only have 8,” Cartegena wrote. "Please hold your loved ones close and cherish every second and minute you have together.”
“Now my Nana too!" she added, following Mrs. Fusco's death. "I am so happy I gave you that kiss Sunday and tucked you into bed; I will miss you forever.”


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