The long-term care community in New Jersey is still reeling after COVID-19 claimed one of its own last Thursday. John Cofrancesco, 52, administrator of Family of Caring in Montclair, NJ, died in the hospital after testing positive for COVID-19.

“When I heard an administrator was in the hospital, that it hit one of our own, it was very difficult,” Jonathan Dolan, president and CEO of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, told McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.  

The latest data from the New Jersey COVID-19 Task Force indicates 1,914 positive cases with 20 deaths, the chapter said in a recent alert.

While it is not clear how Cofrancesco developed COVID-19, a visitor and resident of the facility both tested positive of the virus and died, according to a news report.

Cofrancesco, who worked in long-term care for more than two decades, was known as dedicated, Dolan said. His preceptor, Karen La Para, knew him well from the former Regent Care Center in Hackensack, where she worked from 2009 to 2016. He headed the maintenance department and she was his administrator.

He approached her when he was considering becoming an administrator; she encouraged him to go for it, she recalled.

“I gave him all the information to research and make his decision, and he decided he was going to try it,” she told McKnight’s.

She said that he was very devoted to his wife and son, who survive him, along with a step-son, parents and three siblings. She described him as “as a good guy.”

Within the last three months, she said she accidentally dialed his number. She hung up and he instantly rang back. “He said, ‘did you just dial me? Is everything OK?’” she recounted. “We talked like we had been together yesterday. He was that kind of a guy. I didn’t mean to call him. When I think of him, I think of that. That’s how he was.”

La Para said his death is “devastating.”

“I don’t know how else to put it,” she added. “It’s shocking.”