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Palm Coast Thursday, Mar. 26, 2020 11 months ago

Woman found dead after reporting flu-like symptoms; Medical Examiner's Office tests for COVID-19

If the woman's test comes back positive, the Department of Health will begin a contact-tracing investigation.
by: Jonathan Simmons News Editor

A 66-year-old resident of the Daytona North area in western Flagler County was found dead in her home March 25 after reporting flu-like symptoms. The Medical Examiner's Office is investigating to determine whether she had COVID-19. 

The Flagler County emergency dispatch center, which has been asking screening questions for each incoming call to determine whether responders need to wear personal protective equipment, recommended PPE for that case, according to a Flagler County Sheriff's Office report.

Out of concern that the woman's death may have been related to the coronavirus, only one paramedic actually entered the home.

The man who reported the woman's death told a deputy that he lived in a motor home on the woman's property, which he'd been helping her keep up, according to the FCSO report. Authorities have not released the woman's name.

The man told a deputy that the woman "began to complain that she felt like she had the flu on March 20," according to the FCSO report. 

She had difficulty breathing, but may have have COPD, the man said. The man had last seen her alive at about 10 a.m. March 24, and she was still saying she did not feel well.

At about 2:09 March 25, the man found her dead in the bathroom of the home, and called law enforcement. A Flagler County Fire Rescue paramedic confirmed her death at 2:20 p.m.

A Medical Examiner's Office investigator responded, bringing swabs to test for COVID-19. The woman's body was then released to a funeral home.

The Florida Department of Health in Flagler County had not received official notification of the death March 26, and would not become involved unless the woman's test comes back positive for COVID-19, Communications Manager Gretchen Smith said.

If that occurs, the Health Department will begin a contact-tracing investigation to determine who she was in contact with before her death.

As of March 26, seven Flagler County residents, four men and three woman, had tested positive for COVID-19. One was hospitalized. Their ages ranged from 30 to 72. Of the seven cases, one was travel related, two were not travel-related, and four were listed as "travel unknown," according to the Florida Department of Health's COVID-19 Data and Surveillance Dashboard.


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