Lucia DeClerck, the oldest resident of a New Jersey nursing home, learned that she had contracted the coronavirus on her 105th birthday, Jan. 25, the day after she had gotten her second dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to Michael Neiman, the home’s administrator.
At first, she said she was scared. She did not like being isolated, and she missed the daily chatter from the parade of caregivers at Mystic Meadows Rehabilitation and Nursing, a 120-bed facility in Little Egg Harbor.
She showed few symptoms. And within two weeks she was back in her room, holding her rosary beads and wearing her trademark sunglasses and knit hat.
To her two surviving sons, five grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and 11 great-great grandchildren, who call her Grandma Lucia, she has a new moniker: “The 105-year-old badass who kicked Covid.”
On Monday, she got a shout-out from Gov. Philip D. Murphy, who described a phone call with her during a coronavirus news briefing. “What an uplifting conversation,” the governor said.
Ms. DeClerck’s family gathered in January 2020 at Mystic Meadows to celebrate her 104th birthday before the onset of the pandemic. When they learned that she had contracted the virus, they braced for the worst.
Ms. DeClerck is one of 62 residents of Mystic Meadows to have contracted the virus; four patients died, including three who were receiving hospice care.
In January, residents were being tested twice a week, and a rapid test in the last week of the month showed that Ms. DeClerck had contracted the virus.
She had also been vaccinated, which most likely contributed to her recovery. The first studies of Britain’s mass inoculation program showed strong evidence on Monday that even one dose of vaccine can help slash coronavirus-related hospitalizations.
Ms. DeClerck is not the oldest person to beat the virus.
Europe’s oldest known resident, Sister André, contracted the virus at 116. She celebrated her 117th birthday with a glass of Champagne this month at a nursing home in Toulon, France.