COVID-19 claims siblings’ lives less than 2 weeks apart

Northwest

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A Rhode Island family is heartbroken after losing two of their loved ones to COVID-19 in less than two weeks.

On Thursday, Betty Zoglio’s family buried her 82-year-old sister, Marie Casbarro, just a short time after doing the same for her brother, 79-year-old Bernie Lanzi.

“I’m having a very hard time wrapping my head around now being the oldest and the one to take care of things,” Zoglio said. “I had an older brother and sister. My sister was like the matriarch of the family once my mother passed. Loved gardening, cooking, baking, her daughter.”

“It’s just awful, awful what this disease did to our family,” she added.

Both siblings were residents of Golden Crest Nursing Centre in North Providence, one of the hardest-hit facilities in the state.

“Bernie took care of his family. He was always there for us. He was so good to us, he bought us a home for my mother and for the brothers and sisters to live in,” Zoglio added. “When we were younger, we couldn’t afford it, and so he bought us our cap and gown, our yearbooks. I can’t explain, Bernie what a good man this man was, how good he was to everyone.”

Lanzi and Casbarro were two of six siblings who grew up together in Providence.

An earlier picture of Marie and Bernie.
(Courtesy: Cheryl Giuliani)

Since the two were diagnosed while at the nursing home, their loved ones were unable to see them due to visitation restrictions.

“They called my sister on a Sunday and told her Bernie was not doing well, and he passed on the 30th. That’s how quickly this virus moves,” Zoglio said.

As Catholics, Zoglio said the burials were also unbearable since only nine family members were allowed to attend.

Courtesy: Cheryl Giuliani

“We had to meet in St. Anne’s, the parking lot,” she recalled. “There was no church service, nothing. You couldn’t even go into the chapel.”

The family said they had a Catholic priest present but that was the only bit of normalcy due to the ongoing pandemic.

“We are a family, a close-knit family, couldn’t even hug one another. We had to stand far apart,” Zoglio added. “You can’t be with your loved one, you can’t hold their hand, you can’t say, ‘we love you, it’s OK to go, we are around you.’ Nothing, nothing at all, nothing, and that’s what’s eating us alive. You cant even hold their hand.”

Zoglio said the family is planning to hold a memorial for the siblings at a later time.

“Whatever date, month or year, the family — we will finally be able to actually get together and actually share a hug,” she said.

An earlier version of this story contained an incorrect spelling of the Lanzis’ surname.

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