Health officials have released new information about the first patient to die in Monroe County and Western New York from the COVID-19 coronavirus.
Family members say Alvin Simmons, 54, was an Army veteran and father of two who worked at Rochester General Hospital.
A spokesperson with the hospital says Simmons had several underlying health conditions, including tobacco use.
Hospital President Dr. Kevin Casey says Simmons worked in the environmental services department and was hired less than a month prior to his death.
Simmons began having symptoms on March 11 and Dr. Casey says the last day Simmons worked at the hospital was March 12. Simmons came into the emergency department on March 13 where he was tested for COVID-19. Simmons was deemed clinically stable by medical personnel and was sent home after being identified as a person under investigation.
According to Dr. Casey, Simmons was brought back to the emergency department 18 hours later by EMS and was suffering from respiratory distress. He was intubated and taken to the intensive care unit where he would later pass away.
The test for COVID-19 required 48 hours for results, meaning medical personnel did not know Simmons was positive for the virus when he was released on March 13.
Health officials tracing Simmons' contacts believe he contracted the virus outside the hospital and they have not identified any staff or other employees who are at high risk of exposure from him.
On Tuesday, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren released this statement on Simmons' death:
"This is a tragic day for our city. I am deeply saddened and extend my heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of our community’s first victim of COVID-19. This passing is a tragedy for our entire city. We cannot let this passing be in vain and I pray that this will provide inspiration to all of us so that we can take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves, our families and our community.
"I know that the social distancing and separation being forced upon us is difficult because change is always challenging. However, it is truly the only way to protect each other. Together, we must follow the advice of our medical professionals to get through this crisis.
"Everyone knows that I am a believer, a woman of faith, and the Lord demands that those that can act do so for the betterment of others. I promise to do all I can to help our City and our entire community through this crisis. While I am saddened today, I will use this tragedy to inspire me to get up and keep fighting tomorrow. I ask that you join me in doing the same."
As of Wednesday morning, Monroe County has 18 confirmed cases, four of which are new. Of the 18, five are hospitalized.
Also on Wednesday, Andrew Cuomo said there are now 2,382 cases in New York state, 1,008 of which are new cases. The highest number of cases in the state is still in New York City, which stands at 1,339.
There are now 20 deaths attributed to COVID-19, Cuomo said. There are 549 patients hospitalized, a 23 percent rate.
On Tuesday, Cuomo said experts predict the coronavirus cases will likely peak in 45 days. At that point, 55,000 to 100,000 hospital beds will be needed, along with 18,600-37,200 intensive care unit beds across the state.