Three members of the same New Jersey family have died of COVID-19, the respiratory illness that derives from the novel coronavirus, and four others are hospitalized, after attending a family gathering, New York Post reports.
Several members of the Fusco family gathered for a family dinner on March 10, according to Pittsburgh’s WPXI-TV. Within days, members of the family began dying within hours of each other, at hospitals across the area. A week later, many members of the family remain sickened, some in critical condition.
The first to die was 55-year-old Rita Fusco-Jackson, one of 11 children of 73-year-old Grace Fusco, who died last Friday in New Jersey — in the process becoming the Garden State’s second death from the disease. On Wednesday, Fusco’s eldest son, Carmine Fusco, also 55, died in a Pennsylvania hospital. Hours later, back in New Jersey, Mrs. Fusco died.
Four other members of the family are still hospitalized, three of them in critical condition.
Meanwhile, 19 other members of the family — spouses and children of the victims — have been tested for the virus and are in quarantine.
Family attorney Paradiso Fodera offered a no-nonsense take on the situation.
“If they’re not on a respirator, they’re quarantined,” Fodera said, noting that the remaining family members can’t even properly mourn their departed loved ones, as now is not the time for them to be in close contact with other people, such as at a wake or funeral.
Sister Elizabeth Fusco, 42, noted that the journey isn’t over for her family.
“This has been devastating for all of us. Our hearts are broken over losing our sister, Rita. We just need help in saving our family members with life-saving medication,” she said.
Meanwhile, area health official Margaret Jahn said via NJ.com that from a public health standpoint, more work needs to be done with regard to this family and its exposure to the coronavirus. Specifically, Jahn said that her agency is trying to research and map out everyone who could have come into contact with the family after the dinner.
“We are not seeing a community spread per se,” Jahn said.
Health officials across the world are, on a daily basis, driving home the importance of social distancing — that is, avoiding gatherings of several people, and keeping a distance of about 6 feet away from others. Despite this, the news is filled with reports of people flouting those recommendations, such as crowds of college-age students celebrating spring break at Florida beaches, or crowding into bars in states where the establishments haven’t yet been ordered closed.