A man in his mid-40s died last week of pneumonia on his second visit to Mercy Regional Medical Center – and now the La Plata County Coroner’s Office says it is awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test that was performed after his death.
The Coroner’s Office as of Tuesday afternoon had not received results from the test it performed on the La Plata County man, said Coroner Jann Smith.
The man had been at Mercy for complications related to pneumonia, was sent home and then came back with symptoms that he died from late last week. Smith said she did not immediately have the man’s name, exact age or time of death.
The man had “pretty bad diabetes,” Smith said.
COVID-19 attacks the respiratory system of infected individuals. Symptoms include sore throat, coughing and shortness of breath, among other flu-like symptoms.
Most people infected with the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 exhibit mild symptoms, but older individuals and people with chronic health conditions are susceptible to symptoms that could lead to pneumonia and death. People who smoke or have some immunodeficiency are also at risk.
The Coroner’s Office also plans to test a woman in her late 30s who died Sunday at her home in La Plata County related to asthma and recent respiratory problems, Smith said. An autopsy is scheduled for Friday, she said.
Smith said there is a “very strong possibility” that her office would test bodies of elderly people with medical issues for COVID-19 if the individual died of respiratory issues.
But getting tests has been difficult, even for the Coroner’s Office.
“I’ve been working with San Juan Basin Public Health, there just aren’t any (tests),” Smith said.
Fewer than 20 tests for COVID-19 have been administered in La Plata and Archuleta counties as of Monday. The Coroner’s Office obtained the test it administered to the deceased man from Mercy Regional Medical Center, but Smith said her office has been unable to obtain any more tests from Mercy.
Colorado was reporting 183 cases of COVID-19 as of Tuesday afternoon, and two deaths related to the illness.