“Keep on fighting, have that positive attitude, and pray,” Anna Fortunato says

By Jason Duaine Hahn
April 08, 2020 06:19 PM
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A 90-year-old woman from Long Island, New York, has miraculously recovered from coronavirus — and she wants to offer hope to everyone else feeling afraid amid the pandemic.

Before she was hospitalized for 13 days, Anna Fortunato came down with a sore throat, but believed it was simply a cold, her daughter Teresa Gund recalled to the Associated Press. But Fortunato’s condition continued to worsen, and she was transported from the assisted living home where she lives to a hospital on March 13.

Once there, Fortunato spoke to her daughter over FaceTime while using a nurse’s phone.

“She says, ‘Don’t you worry,’” Gund said of the phone call. “‘I will be fine. I have all the faith in God … and God is going to get me through this. He doesn’t want me right now. He wants me to stay here with you guys.'”

Credit: Teresa Fortunato Gund

Since it began to spread around the globe in December, coronavirus has proven especially deadly for senior citizens. According to the CDC, because older adults are more at risk of suffering serious symptoms from coronavirus, they have been advised to stay indoors and avoid crowded places to reduce their exposure during the outbreak.

At the hospital, Fortunato’s health continued to deteriorate to the point that Gund asked doctors if a priest could come to give her mother her last rites. They said it was too risky to let a priest inside.

With not much left to offer Fortunato in terms of treatment options, doctors turned to the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, according to the AP.

Hydroxychloroquine, which is sold under the brand name Plaquenil, is an anti-malaria drug that is also used to treat lupus. Its effectiveness in fighting coronavirus has not been proven, but some reports suggest it may help. The drug has also recently been touted by President Donald Trump.

After she was given the medication, Fortunato surprisingly began making a recovery. She was finally discharged nearly two weeks after she was admitted into the hospital.

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Now Fortunato is looking forward to spending more time with her family in the future and her upcoming 91st birthday in June.

“I had a good husband, and my children are beautiful,” she told the AP. “I’ve lived to see grandchildren, and great-grandchildren … so I AM fortunate.”

According to a New York Times database, the United States as seen a total of at least 424,860 cases and 14,607 deaths attributed to coronavirus as of Wednesday afternoon.

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. To help provide doctors and nurses on the front lines with life-saving medical resources, donate to Direct Relief here.