NJ home health aide charged with exposing coronavirus to elderly client who died

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A New Jersey home health aide is facing criminal endangerment charges in the COVID-19 death of an 80-year-old woman under her care, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Friday the elderly Camden woman died in April after contracting the coronavirus from the aide, Josefina Brito-Hernandez, 49.

Four other members of the woman’s household also became infected, including two developmentally disabled siblings, they said.

Brito-Hernandez, of Camden, was charged with five counts of endangering the welfare of another person, prosecutors said.

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“In Camden, a home health aide that was symptomatic was told to self-isolate after testing,” New Jersey Police Superintendent Patrick Callahan said at New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy’s coronavirus briefing Friday, referring to Brito-Hernandez.

“She ultimately came back positive and went against instructions and actually went into a home the next day to care for a few different family members,” Callahan said.

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A news release Friday from the office of Attorney General Gurbir Grewal says that on April 16 Brito-Hernandez went to the Camden COVID-19 testing site because she was not feeling well.

“She allegedly did not disclose this fact to the elderly person for whom she cared, or the patient’s family,” the news release says.

After the test was conducted Brito-Hernandez was sent home to await the results and told to self-isolate because she had been in contact with someone who was suspected to be positive for COVID-19 and who ultimately was found to be positive, according to the news release.

Notwithstanding the direction to self-isolate, Brito-Hernandez went to her client’s home on April 17 as usual and did not wear a face mask or any other personal protective equipment, the news release says.

Her employer mandated that PPE be worn at all times, according to the news release.

“Brito allegedly can be seen on in-home video caring for her elderly patient by feeding her, giving her a sponge bath and taking her vital signs – all while not wearing PPE,” the news release says.

It says the elderly woman was subsequently hospitalized and “passed away several days later.”

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Efforts to reach Brito-Hernandez were unavailing.