Washington County has first COVID-19 death

By JON ALVERSON JALVERSON@DDTONLINE.COM,

The first death from COVID-19 in Washington County was confirmed on Tuesday.

A 76-year old former teacher and poll worker died from effects of the virus on Friday, April 3.

Family members of the deceased said she was initially tested on March 24. She had a slight headache and other symptoms.

She received the news of a positive test on March 28, the day before her birthday, and was admitted to the hospital. The family was told to self-quarantine.

Her daughter, who wished to remain anonymous, said the hardest part of the ordeal was not being by her mother’s side.

“I just wanted to be there with her,” she said.

Greenville Mayor Errick Simmons said he had been in contact with the family.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of those who have lost a loved one to COVID-19,” Simmons said. “As mayor, I have personally spoken to family members and loved ones. The City of Greenville is here during this difficult time.”

As of press time on Tuesday, there were 1,915 cases in the state and 59 total deaths. There were 40 confirmed cases in Washington County, with one death and one outbreak at a long-term care (LTC) facility.

The pandemic has reached levels causing a shelter-in-place order from Governor Tate Reeves as well as strict gathering orders from Mayor Errick Simmons.

The virus has also caused changes in the local healthcare system, especially at Delta Regional Medical Center, which is handing the bulk of the coronavirus testing in the county.

The increase in restrictions due to the virus has also caused a change in the traffic at DRMC.

“The hospital has decreased in all areas due to the government shut down of elective procedures as well as the community sheltering in place,” said Amy Walker, Chief Nursing Officer at DRMC. “Our outpatient services and clinic operations have decreased with some outpatient services closed.”

Walker said the closures and decreased services are temporary until the crisis stabilizes, but the hospital has found other ways to meet patient needs.

“All of our Delta Medical Group clinics have begun utilizing Telehealth medicine, which allows patients to still have visits with their providers remotely,” Walker said. “Delta Regional Medical Center remains available for emergency services as well as procedures and surgeries that are urgent.”

While the hospital is doing its part to serve the community, the community is also helping to serve the hospital.

“As with every hospital in the nation right now, Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) is difficult to obtain because we are only allotted so much per hospital,” Walker said. “Right now, one of our needs is shields, long sleeve gowns and masks. Thankfully, the community is supporting our needs by donations of masks and other items.”

Walker said DRMC staff has applied for grant opportunities with larger companies to seek supplies as well as working with Washington County Emergency Management.

While the hospital is focused on providing care in Washington County. There have been opportunities for help and collaboration with other entities.

“Other hospital facilities have called upon DRMC and information has been shared about the actions that were put into place, such as the COVID-19 Hotline, DriveThru Assessment Center and other actions,” Walker said. “Also, we have been working closely with other healthcare providers to share information and have assisted with supplies. The term, ‘We are all in this together’ holds very true in the health care realm.”

While the world is swimming in rumor and misinformation, Walker said there are simple approaches to being safe.

“Following the CDC guidelines and shelter-in-place order is imperative to flattening the curve. Also, if you need to go to the grocery store,  do not take the whole family,” Walker said. “Please remember that you are responsible for the safety of not only you, but everyone else around.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there that people cannot leave their house to exercise or walk in neighborhoods,” Walker said. “This is the time to get out with your family or solo, not large groups, and walk or ride a bicycle.”