Coronavirus kills 4 members of same family, sickens 3 others

Scott Stump and Alexander Kacala

Four members of the same New Jersey family have died from the coronavirus and three other family members remain hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 as cases continue to rise across the country.

Grace Fusco, 73, a mother of 11 and grandmother of 27, died Wednesday night at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, NBC News confirmed. Her death came just hours after her oldest son, Carmine Fusco, died at a Pennsylvania hospital near his home, and five days after her daughter, Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, died at CentraState Medical Center, family relative Roseann Paradiso Fodera told NJ.com.

On Thursday, a fourth person died after being infected with the coronavirus, according to NJ Advance Media. Paradiso Fodera, the lawyer representing the Fusco family, said her cousin Vincent Fusco died at CentraState Medical Center.

According to Paradiso Fodera, three more of Grace Fusco's children remain hospitalized with the coronavirus, two of them in critical condition.

Grace Fusco, a mother of 11 from New Jersey, died at 73 from the coronavirus, only hours after her son also died from the illness. (Fusco Family)

"It’s completely devastating," Paradiso Fodera told NJ.com. "They will need the faith they’ve always embraced to get them through this overwhelming shock and profound grief."

Nineteen members of the family have been tested for coronavirus and are currently quarantined in their homes, so they have been unable to gather together to mourn those who have died, Paradiso Fodera said.

“If they’re not on a respirator, they’re quarantined,” Paradiso Fodera told The New York Times. "It is so pitiful. They can’t even mourn the way you would."

Carmine Fusco died at a hospital near his Pennsylvania home just hours before his mother died in New Jersey after both were diagnosed with COVID-19. (Fusco Family)

One of Grace Fusco's grandchildren and Fusco-Jackson's nieces, Gabba Gunga, expressed her grief on Facebook on Wednesday.

"My mom is one of 11, last Thursday I went to sleep having 10 aunts and uncles!" she wrote. "Friday I woke up and found out I only had 9, just a few minutes ago I found out I only have 8. Please hold your love ones close and cherish every second and minute you have together.

"Please say prayers for the rest of our family as they continue to fight for their lives."

Gunga, who is pregnant with her first child, made a follow-up post on Facebook Thursday after her grandmother's death.

"To know my child will never meet my nana her great nana, my aunt her great aunt and my uncle her great uncle is so heart breaking!" she wrote. "It’s earth shattering it’s unimaginable!

"But as much as I am broken my family is worse, all of my aunts and uncles lost a mother, a brother and sister. My cousins lost their mother. My uncle and aunt lost their spouse. We can’t mourn together, we can’t be together, when thats all we ever are, is together.

"Please pray for the other 4 members of our family still in the hospital. We can’t even visit them. Hug your family, take advantage of this time together, my family wishes we could be you!"

Rita Fusco-Jackson, 55, died from the coronavirus five days before her brother and mother also died from the illness. (Fusco Family)

As of Thursday afternoon, the New Jersey Department of Health noted 742 positive cases of COVID-19 in the state and nine deaths.

State officials believe the Fusco family's deaths are connected to John Brennan, 69, a horse trainer from Bergen County who was the first one to die from the coronavirus in New Jersey.

The Fusco family has longstanding connections to the horse-racing industry, according to The New York Times. A person who was in contact with Brennan was later at a large Fusco family gathering, New Jersey health commissioner Judith M. Persichilli told NJ.com Sunday.

The number of cases worldwide has topped 220,000 as of Wednesday, with 7,942 cases and 137 dead in the United States.

New Jersey's largest city, Newark, has taken the measure of instituting an 8 p.m. curfew in which no one should be on the street unless there is an emergency or they are traveling to or from work.

This article was originally published on March 19, 2020 at 8:39 a.m.