Coronavirus is now the second pandemic Friedman has lived through.
Nearly 102 years ago, Friedman’s mother died giving birth to her while aboard a ship making its way from Italy to New York. Her death came amid the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918, which killed more than 50 million people, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Unlike coronavirus, the Spanish flu killed many healthy people and children younger than 5.
After the ship reached New York, Friedman and two of her sisters were reunited with their father in Brooklyn.
“She was one of 11 children,” Merola told the outlet of her mother. “She’s the last one surviving.”
Merola said she has not been able to visit her mother since February, just before social distancing rules went into place around the country. Because Friedman has trouble hearing, they can’t speak on the phone.
If she could say one thing to her mom, Merola said she would encourage her to remain strong.
“If my mother could see this,” Merola told WPIX, “I’d say, ‘Keep going, Ma! You’re going to outlive us all.’”
As of Tuesday afternoon, the United States has seen more than 1.1 million cases and 70,338 deaths since the deadly disease began to spread around the country, according to a New York Times database.
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