3 Members of New Jersey Family Die from Coronavirus as 4 More Are Hospitalized

One family is weathering three tragedies due to coronavirus in a matter of days.

On Wednesday, 73-year-old Grace Fusco died after catching COVID-19, according to The New York Times. Grace was the matriarch of a big New Jersey family — she had 11 kids and 27 grandkids — and her death came hours after her son Carmine Fusco and days after her daughter Rita Jackson both died, both testing positive for the coronavirus.

A relative told the outlet that four more of Grace’s children are currently hospitalized with coronavirus, and about 20 other family members are quarantined in their homes.

“If they’re not on a respirator, they’re quarantined. It is so pitiful,” a representative for the family told the Times. “They can’t even mourn the way you would.”

For the Fusco family, the virus is believed to have originated at a dinner gathering that was attended by someone who had contact with a man infected with COVID-19, said Judith M. Persichilli, state health commissioner, according to the Times.

“I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to take personal responsibility and to avoid even small gatherings,” said Persichilli.

Nationwide, there have been 8,317 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with 147 deaths, as of March 19, according to a Times database. In New Jersey, there have been 427 cases and five deaths.

The church that Rita, 55, attended in Freehold, New Jersey, shared the news with its members over the weekend, asking that everyone take precautions and mourn her loss.

“I ask that every member of the parish please remember the Fusco-Jackson family in their prayers as they deal with the loss of Rita and for all who have been impacted by COVID-19 here in the parish and throughout the nation,” wrote the church on Facebook.

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As more families grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, the virus continues to interrupt everyday lives.

Medical historian Dr. Howard Markel, a professor at the now-closed University of Michigan, told PEOPLE it’s important for everyone to stay united throughout the situation.

“As serious as this coronavirus is, we’re going to come out on the other end, and my hope is we’ll come out stronger and more cognizant that we live in a global village of emerging infectious diseases,” he said. “It’s not an issue of if, it’s an issue of when.”

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.

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