First person to die from COVID-19 in Mass. is 87-year-old Winthrop man

BOSTON — The state Department of Public Health said a man in his 80s from Suffolk County is the first person in the state to die from the illness caused by the virus.

Public health officials said the man had been hospitalized and had preexisting health conditions that put him at higher risk for COVID-19. Friday afternoon, Winthrop town officials confirmed the victim is an 87-year-old Winthrop resident.

Officials say that everyone who came into contact with the man was notified and asked to self-quarantine.

Download the free Boston 25 News app for up-to-the-minute push alerts

“I extend my heartfelt sympathies to the family and friends who lost their loved one. We are living in uncertain and challenging times, and our administration is bringing every available resource to bear in the fight against this disease, and remind everyone in our Commonwealth to continue to work together, follow social distance protocols and look after each other to keep our communities safe.”

—  Governor Charlie Baker

The victim was also a veteran, according to Winthrop officials.

“The fact is this terrible virus has taken a life in our community, and that loss of life gives each of us pause and fills us with sorrow," said Austin Faison, Winthrop’s town Manager.

A second person in the town also has the virus, but is at home recovering.

Meredith Hurley, the town’s Director of Public Health is emphasizing the importance of social distancing. Residents of the building where the man used to live are now concerned about possible exposure.

“He was 87 years old the man and he was diagnosed a week ago with the virus," said Bouchra Hessasta, a resident.

“It’s pretty worrisome, I can’t stand here and say that I’m not afraid,” said Larry Bagnera, a resident. “I’m 60 years old and I’ve see a lot of things in life. But this is something I don’t think any of us saw."

Officials said 413 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Massachusetts, including the case that resulted in the state’s first death from the disease.

For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death. The vast majority of people recover.

>> Local live updates

>> National live updates