The first death due to complications from COVID-19 was reported by the Monterey County Health Department at just before 3:30pm on Saturday, March 21.
The adult patient had been hospitalized and "had an underlying health condition that predisposed the individual to having more severe disease," according to a press release. No additional information was released about the patient, like their age, what area they lived in or at which hospital they had been treated.
The release also reported four additional cases of COVID-19 since an announcement earlier in the day of seven total cases since the first cases announced Tuesday, bringing the new total to 11. The latest report states that at least two of the cases appear to have been acquired from within the community.
One of those 11 cases appears to be a Monterey Peninsula resident who tested positive after being seen at the Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula. Montage Health, the nonprofit that the hospital is a part of, issued a press release reporting the positive test results just a few hours after the county's announcement of the first death and new case total.
The patient came to the CHOMP emergency department and was seen in the triage tent outside set up to evaluate patients with respiratory illnesses. They were immediately isolated from and recommended for testing, according to the press release. Staff determined that no hospitalization was needed and the patient was sent home with care instructions and remains in self-quarantine.
"Our first case, of course," wasn't a surprise," said Steven Packer, Montage Health's president and CEO, in the press release. "We have been anticipating the inevitable arrival of COVID-19 cases for some time. While this is our first case, it certainly won't be our last."
The case will be investigated by the Health Department to determine where the CHOMP patient may have acquired the virus.
In its announcement of the first report of a death in Monterey County, the Health Deparment expressed its condolences to the family and friends of the patient who died.
"This is a tragic development. The (department) is taking necessary, carefully considered steps to slow down the spread of the disease and to protect those at greatest risk," said Monterey County Health Officer Edward Moreno in the release.
"We are facing a historic public health challenge and know this is a very difficult time," he said. "Our top priority continues to be protecting the health of our community."
The Health Department stressed the importance of continuing to follow the shelter-in-place order to reduce the spread of the disease.