SANTA CRUZ COUNTY, Calif. The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division has announced its first death due to complications from COVID-19.
In a press release to the media the county said the person was an adult male in his early 70s with an underlying health condition.
He was admitted to a local hospital on March 19th with symptoms including fever and shortness of breath and was confirmed by laboratory testing to be positive for COVID-19.
He died in the hospital on March 28th.
The Public Health Division expressed its sincere condolences to his family and friends. “We are deeply saddened to have one of our community members die due to this outbreak”, Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said. “Our top priority is protecting the lives of our community members, and we are working hard to make sure these solemn occasions are as rare as possible."
The patient was employed in both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties. He had not recently traveled and had not had contact with another known case. After a thorough investigation, Public Health’s Communicable Disease Unit determined that this infection was community acquired.
Health officials could not confirm is the man was on a ventilator while in the care of medical staff. Santa Cruz County currently has around 40 ventilators. Officials said they are working to acquire more and expand resources in other areas.
"We knew early on, several weeks ago, that we would need to prepare for surge at our hospitals. We immediately identified a site," said Santa Cruz County Health Services Agency Director, Mimi Hall.
The county said they are prepared to provide space for up to 40 hospital beds at Simpkins Swim Center. Right now, officials said expanding services is not needed.
"The early projections, even though we didn't have a lot of data to go into them, showed that'd we would actually be higher on our curve, today. This means we would've had many more cases than we are experiencing. What that tells us is that perhaps our early social distancing is working," said Hall.
Santa Cruz County now has 44 confirmed cases, with the vast majority between the ages of 18 and 65 years old. The first known COVID-19 case in the county was identified on March 6. The Public Health Division thanked Santa Cruz County residents for their diligence in following the Shelter in Place order and physical distancing guidelines, which are critical to protecting vulnerable residents.
The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division also advised the public with more questions about COVID-19, to go to their website www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus, call 211 or text “COVID19” to 211211.
They also provided a number for resident to call for more information. The number: (831) 454-4242 will be available between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., seven days a week.