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Winthrop man is state’s first virus death

Daily Item Staff | March 21, 2020

Massachusetts confirmed its first death from the coronavirus on Friday, an 87-year-old man from Winthrop.

The state Department of Public Health said he is the first person in Massachusetts to die from the illness caused by the virus.

Public health officials said the man had been hospitalized and had preexisting health conditions that put him at higher risk.

“You’ll hear from the media and the state and federal government that the victim was a 87-year-old man with underlying health conditions,” said Winthrop Town Manager Austin Faison on WBZ television. “The latter is as irrelevant to us as community leaders as it  is to the family of our departed resident. The fact is that this terrible virus has taken a life in our community, and that loss of life gives each of us pause and fills us with sorrow.”

Winthrop Police Chief Terence Delehanty said they believe the victim caught the coronavirus through community spread. He said the man died in the hospital.

Faison said the town has one other resident who has tested positive for the virus. He said they are at home and that they continue to recover.

Gov. Charlie Baker offered his condolences to the man’s family.

“We are living in uncertain and challenging times, and our administration is bringing every available resource to bear in the fight against this disease,” Baker said in a news release.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

As of Friday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Massachusetts have topped 400. Of those, at least 58 have been hospitalized.

Material from the Associated Press and WBZ television was used in this report.