Man who died this week may be La Plata County’s first COVID-19 death – The Durango Herald

It appears La Plata County has its first confirmed COVID-19 death.

San Juan Basin Public on Friday reported a patient in his 60s who died this week tested positive for the virus at the time of his death.

Since May, Colorado has provided two death statistics surrounding the novel coronavirus outbreak: deaths among people who had COVID-19 at the time of death and deaths caused by COVID-19.

SJBPH, subsequently, listed the patient in the former column.

But that might change once the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which oversees the database for people who died directly from COVID-19, reviews the patient’s death certificate.

“We’re counting it as a death among,” said Brian Devine with SJBPH. “But it may be the case that after it goes through the process at the CDC, that individual will be counted as a death by COVID. But we can’t say if that will or will not happen today … because that’s not up to us.”

As it stands, SJBPH can list “deaths among COVID-19.” Then, the case goes to the CDC, which determines if the virus caused the death, and if so, the national database is updated.

The CDC website says it could take “one to eight weeks or more” for a determination.

La Plata County Coroner Jann Smith said Friday that doctors at Mercy Regional Medical Center have listed on the patient’s death certificate the cause as COVID-19.

Smith said the patient is a 69-year-old man.

The Coroner’s Office is not investigating the death, Smith said, but the office is housing the body until he can be transferred for funeral services.

SJBPH said it does not release heath information or details about patients.

Smith, however, said the man was admitted into Mercy on June 22. As a result of COVID-19, the man also contracted pneumonia and experienced organ failure, she said.

Smith said the man also had previous health issues, including heart and kidney disease. The man died Wednesday.

Smith said a doctor at Mercy signed the death certificate with the cause as COVID-19 and submitted it to Hood Mortuary. Sarah Silvernail, spokeswoman for Mercy, declined to comment other than to confirm the man’s death.

When asked how the man became infected, SJBPH replied, “as with many of our cases we don’t know exact exposure. We do know he did not travel outside the county during the period he may have been exposed.”

If the man’s death is the result of COVID-19, it will be La Plata County’s first confirmed death as a result of the virus, which started spreading across the U.S. earlier this year.

If it remains that he died from other causes, but had COVID-19 at the time of his death, it would be the second reported similar case.

In a prepared statement, Liane Jollon, executive director of SJBPH, said, “SJBPH is saddened by the second death of a local resident who had contracted COVID-19, and we extend our deepest condolences to the family and friends of this person.

“This is a tragic reminder of the importance of all of us making responsible decisions such as wearing face coverings, social distancing and hand washing frequently to protect our vulnerable family members, friends and strangers,” Jollon said.

SJBPH issued a news release Friday about the patient’s death, as well as the rise of COVID-19 cases in La Plata and Archuleta counties.

Since June 25, La Plata County has reported 63 new cases and Archuleta County reported 10 new cases.

As a result, the Colorado Department of Public and Environment determined La Plata County now qualifies as an area of “significant community transmission of COVID-19.”

“This may result in continued increases in case counts,” the statement said. “The cases reported over the last three weeks include workplace, family, social and household transmissions of the virus, as well as persons who contracted the disease from an unknown source.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *