LITTLE EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP, N.J. - Lucia DeClerck never thought she would survive COVID-19 and live 105 years on earth, but she credits her spiritual life — and her diet — to her longevity.
"I don’t have any secret other than pray, pray, pray... and not to eat any junk food," she told FOX Television Stations Wednesday.
She also pointed out her particular love of raisins soaked in gin.
"You put them in a [mason] jar and keep them for nine days. After nine days, eat nine a day," she continued. "It tastes like candy."
DeClerck has stuck to this staple for most of her life. Her family told the New York Times it’s one of her many lifelong habits, including drinking aloe-juice and brushing her teeth with baking soda, causing her not to have her first cavity until she was 99 years old.
DeClerck is currently the oldest patient at the Mystic Meadows Rehab and Nursing Center in Little Egg Harbor Township in New Jersey.
She tested positive for the coronavirus on Jan. 25, her 105th birthday. Michael Neiman, the center’s administrator, said she had received the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine the previous day.
Neiman said after DeClerck contracted the virus, she suffered mild symptoms and had a low-grade fever for one day.
DeClerck could be the oldest person to beat the coronavirus in the U.S., but not in the world. A 117-year old French nun tested positive for the coronavirus in January and has recovered.
"I think people are fascinated by her story because they see that you can be 105 years old and still recover from this dreaded virus," Neiman told FOX Television Stations. "And you can get your vaccine, even at an old age, and still be fine."
"Hell no," DeClerck responded when asked if she thought she would live this long and whether she planned to live another 105 years.
"She is just the epitome of perseverance," DeClerck’s granddaughter, Shawn Laws O’Neil, told the New York Times. "Her mind is so sharp. She will remember things when I was a kid that I don’t even remember."
"She’s just a very positive person. Anytime we have visitors in the building they all stop by her room," Neiman added.
Since the pandemic started nearly a year ago, nearly 690,000 people in New Jersey have tested positive for the virus and more than 20,000 people have died. More than 566,000 people have been fully vaccinated. Across the country, more than 28 million people have contracted the virus.
The COVID-19 death toll in the U.S. topped 500,000 this week, and the vaccination drive has been slower than hoped, hampered by logistical and weather delays.
So far, about 44.5 million Americans have received at least one dose of vaccine made by Pfizer or Moderna, and nearly 20 million of them have received the second dose required for full protection.
The Associated Press contributed to this report. This story was reported from Los Angeles.