6 relatives hospitalized after NJ woman dies of coronavirus

Six relatives of a New Jersey woman who died from coronavirus have been infected with the life-threatening disease, according to a new report.

Five family members of Rita Fusco-Jackson, a religion teacher from Freehold identified as New Jersey’s second coronavirus victim on Monday, were hospitalized the next day at Freehold’s CentraState Medical Center, where the 55-year-old woman died, her sister told NJ.com.

“This has been devastating for all of us,” said Elizabeth Fusco, 42, of Freehold. “Our hearts are broken over losing our sister, Rita. We just need help in saving our family members with life-saving medication.”

Four of the relatives, including Fusco-Jackson’s mother and siblings, were listed in critical condition, while another was in stable condition at the Freehold hospital. Fusco-Jackson’s brother, meanwhile, remained in critical condition at a hospital in Pennsylvania, Fusco told NJ.com.

Fusco’s family is awaiting additional COVID-19 test results in what one relative characterized as a “surreal” situation — growing more unbelievable by the day.

“To imagine a week ago to get a phone call like this — if someone told me this story, I wouldn’t believe it,” cousin Roseann Paradiso Fodera said. “It’s inconceivable to me.”

In all, 19 spouses and children of the hospitalized victims who were in contact since March 10 have been tested for COVID-19, which has infected at least 267 New Jersey residents as of Wednesday, according to a Johns Hopkins University database.

Township health officials are working with their state counterparts to investigate the “cluster of cases” at the hospital, Freehold health officer Margaret Jahn told NJ.com.

“We’ve conducted several interviews with regard to people who were exposed to close contacts, and we’ve followed up with those — so we are not seeing a community spread per se,” Jahn said.

Fusco-Jackson, who taught in the confirmation program at the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Ballarmine in Freehold, was one of 11 children, her sister said.

State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli has said one of Fusco-Jackson’s siblings is a close friend of John Brennan, a horse trainer from Little Ferry who was the first New Jersey resident to die from the coronavirus, NJ.com reported Sunday.

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Doctors suspect the virus was transmitted during a recent family get-together, Persichilli said.

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