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104-Year-Old Italian Woman Bests Coronavirus With Courage, Strength, And Faith

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The news and reporting around coronavirus and COVID-19 have been bleak and sometimes confusing. Without getting too pie-in-the-sky and head-in-the-sand about it, it’s nice to find some pieces of good news. For that good news, meet 104-year-old Ada Zanusso.

These Are Troubling Times

The statistics around the coronavirus outbreak and COVID-19 pandemic are frightening and overwhelming. As of April 13, 2020, there were 579,005 cases in the United States. Every state, plus the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, has reported cases. Over 22,000 Americans have died, among 125,896 deaths so far world-wide.

But The News Is Not All Bad

Amongst all the bleak numbers is one that we should also pay attention to, if only to help keep ourselves sane. As of April 14, 2020, 466,997 people have recovered from COVID-19. And that brings us to Italian Ada Zanusso, one of those 466,997.

Ada Zanusso

Ada Zanusso was born in 1916, just in time to face and survive the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918. That pandemic infected 500 million people worldwide, killing between 17 and 50 million people. But not Ada, who is a survivor like so many we are grateful for. The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 is often described as the worst worldwide pandemic since that 1918 horror. 

Born in Lessona, Italy, Ada Zanusso was living in Maria Grazia Residence for the elderly in Biella, in the Piedmont region of Italy when she tested positive for COVID-19 in March 2020. The elderly Zanusso went through periods of vomiting, feverishness, and difficulty breathing. Through it all though, Dr. Carla Furno Marchese, who has been Ada’s family doctor for 35 years, said Ada “lost none of her lucidity and intelligence.”

By April 6, 2020, Ada had recovered from COVID-19. With that, she became the oldest known survivor of COVID-19 on record. No longer vomiting, feverish, and breathless from the virus, Zanusso was out of bed and up and about. Dr. Marchese told The Sun that Zanusso’s recovery was “a great joy for us and a sign of good hope for all that are suffering in these difficult days.”

Ada Zanusso told Sky News that “I’m well, I’m well. I watch TV, read the newspapers.” When asked how she managed to fend off the disease, here’s what she said to Sky News and what we all need to hear:

“Courage and strength, faith,” she said, while advising others who fall ill to also “give yourself courage, have faith.”

Hope is a precious commodity, even with Ada’s recovery at Maria Grazia Residence. Unfortunately, 20 other residents of Zanussa’s nursing home have died from COVID-19 or complications from it. Those 20 deceased residents are among over 18,000 people who have died in Italy.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have indicated that older adults, and those with severe underlying conditions, are at higher risk for developing more serious complications from COVID-19. The CDC’s data indicates that the highest hospitalization rates are in adults over age 65 (38.7 per 100,000 population) compared to just 20.7 per 100,000 adults between 50 and 64 years of age, and 12.3 per 100,000 overall.

In Elite Company

Ada is the oldest-known patient to recover from COVID-19, but not the only centenarian to have beaten the virus. World War II veteran and Oregon resident William Lapschies recovered earlier in March 2020 at age 103. Two other 103-year-olds in China and Iran also recovered from COVID-19 infections. 

Ada remains isolated from the other residents and will undergo a follow-up swab test to confirm she’s negative for the coronavirus. Assuming the best, what are Ada’s plans post-lockdown? “I’d like to take a lovely walk and watch [my three great-grandchildren] play together.” 

Let’s give Ada the last word: “Give your self courage, have faith.”

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