SAN BENITO COUNTY, Calif. (KION) UPDATED 3/18/20: A man in his 60s is the first to die from COVID-19 in San Benito County, according to the county health department.
The San Benito County Health and Human Services Agency says the man died Monday morning and was confirmed on Tuesday to have been infected with COVID-19.
KION learned the man was a resident of Hollister, who recently traveled to Thailand and had underlying health conditions.
County public health is not releasing when the man returned to Thailand, and said there is less information available because he died before it was known he contracted the virus.
“It’s always a concern. Especially to the elderly, you know like my mom, but in general I try to keep a distance from everyone and wash my hands,” Hollister resident Agie Ferro said.
Hollister Mayor Ignacio Velazquez says that the man was found by first responders who unsuccessfully tried to revive him.
“Unfortunately, after 3 or 4 rounds of CPR, the man expired from whatever illness he had at the time,” San Benito County Press Information Officer David Westrick said.
They then took him to a hospital where testing later confirmed the man was infected with COVID-19.
The first responders were wearing protective gear, which includes Tyvex suits, latex gloves, goggles and p 100 masks. They are now in self-isolation and being monitored for any signs for COVID-19.
“Because of the possibility of there being exposure, the three firefighters and the two AMR workers were needed to be placed in quarantine,” Westrick said.
The Hollister fire chief said, keeping their staff levels are paramount and will utilize overtime if necessary. There are 40 firefighters in the department.
Officials have not yet released any information about who the victim might have come in contact with since his trip to Thailand.
Following this death, they are asking that residents take the shelter-in-place order even more seriously.
“Please do not go out just to go out,” Velazquez said. “We do not need to lose any more lives here.”
“This is a tragic development. San Benito County Public Health is working closely with its healthcare and community partners to take the necessary steps to slow down the spread of the disease and to protect those at greatest risk,” said San Benito County Health Officer, Dr. Martin Fenstersheib. “Our top priority continues to be protecting the health of our community.”
San Benito County is currently under a “shelter-in-place” order to curb the spread of COVID-19.
“These procedures are sometimes pretty cumbersome, and not very fun for most people. The idea [is] if we can flatten that curve and reduce the amount of contact we have with big groups, it’s really going to help out this whole situation,” Westrick said.