101-year-old woman born during Spanish flu pandemic survives coronavirus

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WESTCHESTER COUNTY, New York (WPIX/CNN) — A 101-year-old New York woman survived the Spanish flu pandemic when she was a newborn, and now she has recovered from COVID-19.

Angelina Friedman, née Sciales, came into the world in 1918 during a wave of Italian immigration to New York. It was during the second wave of the Spanish flu pandemic.

“Her mother died giving birth on the ship, and she was taken care of by her two sisters, who were also on board,” said Joanne Merola, Friedman’s daughter.

According to the World Health Organization, the Spanish flu infected about a third of the world’s population. Roughly 50 million people died from it.

Throughout her nearly 102 years of life, Friedman survived not only Spanish flu but also miscarriages, cancer, sepsis and now, a second pandemic — COVID-19. She has outlived her husband and 10 siblings.

“Everybody in the family lived until at least 95, except one uncle,” Merola said. “My mother is a survivor. She is not human. She has superhuman DNA.”

Friedman, a resident of the North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center in Lake Mohegan, New York, was taken to the hospital on March 21 for a minor medical procedure but received a COVID-19 diagnosis. She spent a week in the hospital and was sent home a week later.

After running a fever on and off for several weeks, Friedman finally tested negative for coronavirus April 20 and was able to start eating again, her daughter said.

Merola hasn’t been able to visit her mother since February due to back trouble, and because Friedman is nearly deaf, they can’t speak on the phone. But the nurses have kept Merola updated on her mother’s progress.

“They tell me she’s doing great. She’s up and about as much as possible. She’s looking for wool to crochet with,” Merola said. “If my mother could see this, I’d tell her, ‘You keep going, Ma. You’re gonna outlive us all.’”

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