New York Woman Beats COVID-19 For Second Time Ahead of 102nd Birthday

super centenarian

Angelina Friedman, 102, recently beat COVID-19 for the second time! That puts her atop of our list of super centenarians who've kicked the coronavirus. Photo: alvarez/GettyImages

The COVID-19 pandemic has taken an especially terrible toll on older people — including in nursing and long-term care homes. But the flip side of that grim news is the ever-growing list of super centenarians who continue to defy the odds and overcome the virus.

The latest person added to that list is Angelina Friedman, a New York centenarian who holds the unique distinction of surviving COVID-19 twice —most recently in November, ahead of her 102nd birthday.

The will to survive, it seems, is in Friedman’s blood, as she was born during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic and also overcame a bout of cancer in recent years.

“She is not human. She has super human DNA,” Joanne Merola, Friedman’s daughter, told New York’s WPIX radio station after her mother survived COVID the first time back in April.

According to the story, Friedman’s life-long penchant for defying life-threatening scenarios began aboard a passenger ship bringing Italian immigrants to America during the 1918 Spanish Flu pandemic. Her mother died giving birth to her, but Friedman began her new life in America with her sisters and father in Brooklyn.

Merola told WPIX that Friedman, in the intervening years, “survived miscarriages, internal bleeding and cancer. She and my dad had cancer at the same time. She survived. He didn’t.”

In March of this year, at age 101, Friedman, who lives at the North Westchester Restorative Therapy and Nursing Center in Lake Mohegan, NY, first tested positive for COVID-19. Merola told NBC that her mom “was never really symptomatic the first time around. The worst symptom she had was a fever that lasted maybe 10 days.”

By April, Friedman had kicked COVID-19 and returned to her nursing home. Then, in October, the NBC story notes that she contracted the virus again shortly before her 102nd birthday. This time she became much sicker and spent time in isolation before beating it the virus again in mid-November — in time to celebrate her birthday.

In speaking with People magazine, Merola acknowledged her mom’s “iron will to live” and added that, “She’s not the oldest to survive COVID, but she may be the oldest to survive it twice.”

Indeed, this year has seen a slew of super centenarians overcome COVID-19. Here, a few others from around the world…


Bill Lapschies, 104

super centenarian
Bill Lapschies beat COVID-19 in time for his 104th birthday.


The Oregon veteran lived through the Spanish flu, the Great Depression and service in the Second World War. He recovered from the coronavirus in time for his 104th birthday.


Cornelia Ras, 107


The Dutch have an expression for amazement — “Now my wooden shoe is breaking” — which is how many of us felt upon hearing that the Amsterdam native is likely the world’s oldest coronavirus survivor.


Connie Titchen, 106


NHS Trust representatives suggested she could be Britain’s oldest coronavirus survivor but, for her part, Titchen said in a statement that she feels “very lucky” and simply “can’t wait to see my family.”


Ada Zanusso, 104


When asked by Sky News how she managed to rally and beat the coronavirus, the Northern Italian woman’s answer was simple — “courage and strength [and] faith.”


Kay Murphy, 100


super centenarian
Photo: Courtesy of Jen Warrington


Murphy’s family calls her “Super Nanny,” and it’s easy to see why. The Nova Scotia centenarian beat COVID-19 around a month after turning 100. Says her granddaughter Jen Warrington, “She once again came out on top of what life has thrown her way.”


Zhang Guangfen, 103


Hailing from the epicentre of the pandemic — Wuhan, China — this survivor spent only six days in hospital before she was deemed healthy and sent home.


Italica Grondona, 102


Grondona returned to her home in Genoa, Italy, after recovering from coronavirus and mild heart failure. Her doctor told CNN that the medical team dubbed her “Highlander — the immortal.”


Micaela Polonio, 100


In an online video, Polonio received an ovation from her Barcelona neighbours after beating the coronavirus, reportedly declaring triumphantly, “I killed that little bug.”

A version of this article appeared in the July/August 2020 issue with the headline, “This Way Up Special,” p. 26.


Canadian Stars and Centenarians Shine During “Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble” Isolation Concert

Captain Tom Moore, 100, Receives Knighthood from Queen at Windsor Castle