New Jersey woman dies of coronavirus without knowing it claimed her kids’ lives

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New Jersey woman dies of coronavirus without knowing it claimed her kids’ lives
The Fusco family
The Fusco family

(NEW YORK POST) – No family in America has been harder hit by the coronavirus than the Fuscos.

The large, close-knit clan from Freehold, NJ, suffered the latest in a staggering series of tragic blows when a fourth member, Vincent Fusco, died Thursday.

And with three of his eight surviving siblings still hospitalized for treatment of the deadly disease, an end to the family’s suffering is not yet in sight.

Fusco died at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, cousin and family lawyer Roseann Paradiso Fodera told nj.com.

His passing followed those of a sister, brother and the family’s 73-year-old matriarch — all in less than a week.

Grace Fusco, the mother of 11, was sedated and mercifully never knew that her two eldest — Carmine Fusco and Rita Fusco Jackson — went before her, according to reports.

Hours before Vincent’s death, the family’s fifth-born child — Bridget Fusco Betlow, 52 — told The Post that she was overwhelmed by the devastating impact of the coronavirus on her family.

“I’m numb, I don’t even know what to feel,” Betlow said during a brief telephone interview.

“My mother, brother and sister are all gone and we don’t have any answers.”

On Wednesday, shortly before her mom died, Betlow told People magazine, “I am sitting here with my mother’s rosary that she gave me the last time she visited me and praying, saying ‘God help me, give us some kind of answer.’”

Betlow — who lives in Crown Point, Indiana — told The Post that she wasn’t at the weekly, Tuesday-night family dinner at her mom’s house where the coronavirus apparently spread among her kin.

The gathering regularly drew as many as 50 relatives, according to People magazine.

“I’m in Indiana, I’m fine,” Betlow said.

“I haven’t been to New Jersey and I can’t be with my family now because they’re all quarantined.”

She added, “We’re still waiting for the test results on the other ones.”

Nineteen relatives, including spouses and children, are awaiting test results for the coronavirus, Betlow’s sister, Elizabeth Fusco, 42, has said.

The family’s first victim was Rita, a 56-year-old religion teacher at the Co-Cathedral of St. Robert Bellarmine in Freehold, who died Thursday.

Following confirmation on Saturday that Fusco Jackson had the coronavirus, NJ Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said that one of her siblings was friends with John Brennan, a Yonkers Raceway worker who on March 10 became the first Garden State resident to die of the disease.

Brother Carmine Fusco, who died Wednesday in Pennsylvania ahead of his mom, was a harness trainer at Yonkers Raceway, where his horses have racked up more than $28,000 in winnings so far this year, according to USTrotting.com.

Freehold residents expressed shock and sympathy at the family’s tragic plight.

“From everything I know about them, they’re a very close-knit, loving family, and it breaks my heart that they got hit so hard by this terrible disease,” said retired firefighter Marc Palermo, 70.

“The fatality rate is not high, relatively speaking, so for God to take not one but three members of this wonderful family is just so tragic and mysterious.

“I hope that God in his mercy lets this family be, because they’ve suffered enough,” he added.

Wayne Ryan, 69, called the situation “just so sad, so sad.”

“I can only imagine the pain this family is dealing with, losing so many in such a short time,” he said.

“It makes me feel like we’re back to the days of the Spanish flu pandemic, seeing a family get ravaged like this.”

No one in the family “had an underlying medical condition,” Paradiso Fodera said, and the survivors want the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to perform an autopsy on Rita.

The grieving relatives hope that the feds “can use this as a tool to explore a better protocol to avoid another healthy person from succumbing to this virus,” Paradiso Fodera told People.

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