Woman who lost 5 family members to COVID-19 wishes others would take the pandemic more seriously

It has been one year since the first case of COVID-19 was detected in New Jersey. One Freehold woman knows all too well how serious the virus has impacted lives. She herself lost five family members during the pandemic.
“I have the perspective of what COVID could cost you. And I wish it on no one,” says Elizabeth Fusco.
The virus cost Fusco her mother Grace, sister Rita, brothers Carmine and Vincent and her aunt. The losses came last March. One after another, family members were being sent to CentraState Medical Center in Freehold. Rita passed on March 13.
“Last time I talked with Rita was 10 p.m. on the 12th. ‘Don’t worry Lizzy, I’ll be home tomorrow to help you,’” Fusco says.
A year later, Fusco says that she is disheartened to see the way people push to lift COVID restrictions.
“The government shouldn’t have to tell you, ‘Hey, you have a headache? Take a Tylenol. There’s COVID, put a mask on. Social distance,'” she says.
The advice comes from a woman who has not only lost so many, but who is also a restaurant owner.
“My capacity is at 99 [people]. If I’m at 98 and a party of two comes in, I’m not sitting it, where other establishments will,” Fusco says. “Why would you put yourself in danger? Live by the boundaries we have right now in this world.”
Fusco’s mother and sister Rita were heavily involved at St. Robert Bellarmine Church. Monsignor Sam Sirianni is preparing a funeral Mass for Rita on March 13. For the Fusco family and many more in his parish, this year has been extremely difficult, especially when not allowed to physically be in person for burials or Mass.
“There’s been a lot of tension and unresolved grief because we weren’t able to grieve,” Sirianni says.
On March 13, he will offer the Fusco family a message of hope. As the Mass is not necessarily a celebration of life, it is one of hope, of being with loved ones again.
“[Saint] Paul reminds us that when we grieve, we do not grieve without hope. And I always focus on, ‘Where do we find that hope?’” Sirianni says.
The Monsignor says there has been a lot of stress and fear this year. But he says that he is finding hope as he watches his parishioners step up to take care of those in need.