Vincent Fusco died a day following his mother Grace and brother Carmine's deaths, and five days after his sister Rita's passing

By Gabrielle Chung and Diane Herbst
March 19, 2020
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A fourth member of a close-knit New Jersey family has died of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Vincent Fusco, 53, died at the CentraState Medical Center in Freehold on Thursday — just one day after the deaths of his mother Grace, 73, and brother Carmine, 56, Roseann Paradiso Fodera, a first cousin of the late matriarch and the family’s attorney, confirmed to PEOPLE.

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Vincent’s death comes five days after the death of his sister Rita Fusco Jackson, 56, who died on Friday and later tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

“I am numb, I don’t believe what is going on,” Vincent’s sister Bridget Fusco Betlow, 52, previously told PEOPLE. “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.’"

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Vincent Fusco
Courtesy Roseann Paradiso Fodera

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Members of the Fusco family initially began falling ill in the days following a big family dinner on March 3. Rita — a married mom of three who taught religious classes at the family’s longtime Roman Catholic church — had shortness of breath and her oxygen level was low. Meanwhile, Vincent — a harness racer — thought he had the flu and was admitted to the hospital on Monday, March 9.

Grace and her children Rita, Carmine, Antonia, 55, Joseph, 49, and Maria, 43, were all admitted with the same symptoms the next day. (Carmine lived in Pennsylvania and was hospitalized there.)

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That same day, March 10, the family learned that John Brennan — a horse trainer and close business associate of Carmine and Vincent — had died of the coronavirus in another New Jersey hospital, according Fusco Betlow. Brennan is the state’s first coronavirus death.

This prompted the Fusco family to get doctors to test their hospitalized family members.

It’s a mystery why the disease has ravaged this family, since they believe “no one had an underlying medical condition,” Paradiso Fodera previously told PEOPLE.

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The Fusco family
Courtesy of Roseann Paradiso Fodera

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As the family continues to deal with this tragedy, 19 members of the clan are quarantined in their own homes as they anxiously await coronavirus test results they took last Friday and Saturday.

“They need for this test to get done and get processed, so we know who has it, so we can go together and mourn together in my mother’s house,” Fusco Betlow, who lives in Indiana, told PEOPLE.

Paradiso Fodera has been in contact with lawmakers to help coordinate care and for help obtaining the test results since a week has passed with no word.

“The family wants the CDC and the NIH’s cooperation to perform an autopsy on Rita,” Paradiso Fodera said, “so they can use this as a tool to explore a better protocol to avoid another healthy person from succumbing to this virus.”

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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