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Santa Cruz County reports first coronavirus-related death

The Santa Cruz County Public Health Division on Sunday announced the county’s first death due to novel coronavirus.

The victim, who died Saturday, was a man in his early 70s who had an underlying health condition and was hospitalized March 19 with symptoms that included fever and shortness of breath.

A test confirmed he was positive for COVID-19.

Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said in a statement:

“We are deeply saddened to have one of our community members die due to this outbreak.”

“Our top priority is protecting the lives of our community members, and we are working hard to make sure these solemn occasions are as rare as possible.”

The man was employed in both Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, had not recently traveled and had not had contact with another known case, officials said.

The health division said:

“After a thorough investigation, Public Health’s Communicable Disease Unit determined that this infection was community acquired.”

Santa Cruz County confirmed its first COVID-19 case on March 6 and as of Sunday morning the number of cases has grown to 41, with the vast majority being between the ages of 18 and 65.

Information on COVID-19 in the county is available online at, calling 211, or texting “COVID19” to 211211. Residents may also call (831) 454-4242 between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., seven days a week.

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