Home health aide charged after allegedly refusing to self-isolate; 80-year-old patient died

After reportedly not self-isolating following a coronavirus test, a home health aide is facing criminal charges as four people in the household where she worked tested positive for the new virus and an 80-year-old patient died of COVID-19.

Josefina Brito-Fernandez, a 49-year-old home health aide working in New Jersey, was charged May 14 with five counts of "endangering the welfare of another," according to a statement from the state attorney general's office.

Ms. Brito-Fernandez was not feeling well and went to get tested for the new coronavirus April 16. She was told to self-isolate after the test, even before the test results were available, because she has been in contact with a person suspected of having COVID-19.

Despite being told to self-isolate, she went to work April 17, without wearing a face mask or any other personal protective equipment, though her employer mandated that protective gear be worn at all times.

Per the AG's statement, there is video footage of Ms. Brito-Fernandez caring for the 80-year-old patient and two siblings with developmental disabilities in the house without wearing protective gear. Four members of the household later tested positive for the new coronavirus, and the 80-year-old died.

A complaint filed by Camden County, N.J., prosecutors states that Ms. Brito-Fernandez said she understood that COVID-19 is a serious illness and that older people are at higher risk of severe illness.

State officials told NPR that Ms. Brito-Fernandez has not been arrested. There is no court date set as yet.




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