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Odessa Sees First COVID-19 Related Death

By Mitch Borden

An Odessa patient died from COVID-19 Monday at Odessa Regional Medical Center, as the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus in the city reached 30.

News of the city's first death related to the coronavirus was first reported by CBS7—after a family member informed the TV station their 69-year-old male relative died after contracting COVID-19.

It took almost 24 hours for the hospital to confirm the death. During a Tuesday briefing, Chief Medical Officer for ORMC, Dr. Rohith Saravanan said there it's not necessary for the public to know how many people have died from the disease.

“What the community needs to know and hear from us is that we are going to take care of people," said Saravanan. "We are here to take care of them and we are going to do it the best we can for as long as we can.”

According to Saravanan, the hospital reported the death to the Ector County Public Health Department Monday night. County officials did not release a formal statement on the death, but quietly updated their online COVID-19 tracker.

Stacy Brown, the president of ORMC, did express frustration with the county's sluggish response. She says it's not her hospital's policy to release information on patients, but she expected an announcement by the county.

Brown said ORMC would continue to look to county officials to disseminate information concerning COVID-19 deaths. Russell Tippen, the CEO of Medical Center Hospital, Odessa's second hospital, echoed that sentiment.

Brown did say she would work to make information more accessible in the future.

Mitch Borden is Permian Basin Reporter & Producer at Marfa Public Radio.