Rochester Regional Health releases details on first COVID-19 death in Monroe County |

Rochester Regional Health releases details on first COVID-19 death in Monroe County

Updated: March 18, 2020 07:36 PM
Created: March 17, 2020 04:14 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A patient who previously tested positive for COVID-19 has died at Rochester General Hospital, according to the Monroe County Department of Public Health.

Officials with Rochester Regional Health says the 54-year-old man, who has been identified by family as Alvin Simmons, was hospitalized on March 14 with a fever and acute respiratory symptoms and subsequently tested positive for COVID-19.

Hospital officials say the patient also had multiple, serious underlying conditions, including hypertension, liver disease, and a history of tobacco use. 

He was a Rochester General Hospital employee, but hospital officials say he was the first COVID-19 case at the hospital. They are unsure where he acquired the virus, but say it was not from another patient in the hospital. 

Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza released the following statement Tuesday:

“Today, I am reporting that a patient who previously tested positive for COVID-19 has passed away at Rochester General Hospital. This is our first confirmed death related COVID-19 in Monroe County.

Out of respect for their privacy, I cannot release details about this patient other than to say there were complicating factors that contributed to the death.

My sincerest condolences to this patient’s family and friends."

As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, there were 14 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Monroe County, with five of those people currently hospitalized. Seventy-nine others are under mandatory quarantine.

Monroe County Executive Adam Bello says they will begin doing temperature checks of everyone trying to enter the county office building on Wednesday.

A new study out of Germany reveals that COVID-19 patients are most contagious the week before they actually show symptoms, as well as the first week symptoms, appear.  

Simmons went to work during that period, so News10NBC asked health leaders about whether patients and staff were exposed to Simmons.

"We could trace the work he had done throughout the hospital,” Kevin Casey, president of Rochester General Hospital said. “And we could identify no patients or staff who were high risk."

Another question involves the hospital’s decision to send Simmons home following his visit to the ER on March 13. Eighteen hours later, Simmons was taken to the hospital by ambulance in respiratory distress and was pronounced brain dead hours later.

Casey defends the emergency room physicians’ decision to send him home saying, “During that visit, it was presented that he was clinically stable to go home."

Last week a family member was also having respiratory symptoms.

Shonda Williams says after three trips to the emergency room last week, doctors finally diagnosed her with pneumonia and sent her home.

Family members say Wednesday department of health workers visited her apartment with paperwork in hand.

They put her under mandatory quarantine and forced her to sign documents mandating that she never leave her apartment until the quarantine period ends.


The latest information on the coronavirus and resources can be found at

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