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Family who lost 5 loved ones opens up about COVID's devastating toll

Family discusses COVID's devastating toll
Family discusses COVID's devastating toll 02:29

In the early weeks of the coronavirus pandemic, one family in New Jersey lost five loved ones to COVID-19. The virus spread quickly through their family after they gathered for a dinner. 

Italian and Catholic, Grace Fusco nourished her 11 children in Freehold Township, New Jersey. CBS News talked to four of her children — Joe, Toni, Adrienne and Liz — one year after what would be the last family dinner. 

"The only thing we are guilty of is being a close-knit family, where we always together," Joe said.

The family wasn't thinking about the coronavirus during the dinner. "Not a thought in any of our minds," Toni said. 

"Unbeknownst to us, we were spreading this horrible disease to people — to us in our family," Joe said. 

The next week, Grace and six of her children were in the hospital. "And before you knew it, Mom, Carmine, Vinny — they were all on a ventilator," Adrienne said.

Grace Fusco with her family. Handout

It was seven days of heartache for the family. First, their sister Rita died at age 56. Five days later, their 55-year-old brother Carmine and 73-year-old mother Grace died. Another brother Vinny died the next day at age 53. A month later, they lost their aunt Maria.

Toni was battling COVID in the same hospital that week. 

"I was petrified of everything. Cause in my mind, I'm thinking, 'I'm gonna die. We're all just gonna die. and they're just gonna take our whole family,'" Toni said. 

As he was also battling COVID-19, Joe sent Toni a text message telling his sister he was going on a ventilator and he couldn't breathe.

"I just remember pounding into my head over and over to myself, 'You've got to wake up. You have to wake up,'" Joe said.

After 30 days, he did wake up.

"I'm lucky. I'm lucky to be alive," Joe said.

There is no telling how many lives may have been saved by the story of the Fuscos and the "amazing Grace."

"Her passing in a way, helped the world immensely. They learned a lot from her and her children," Liz said.

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