CHESTERTOWN — With 92 people having reportedly died in the state of Maryland as a result of the novel coronavirus, the death toll on the Eastern Shore totals three.
According to the Maryland Department of Health, there are 4,045 confirmed cases of COVID-19 throughout the state. On the Shore, the state site shows a death in Cecil County and another in Wicomico. Talbot County officials confirmed a fatality there Saturday, April 4.
In a news release, Talbot County Health Officer Dr. Fredia Wadley said the loss "is very significant for our community."
“This individual was in her 40s with significant co-morbidities,” Wadley said. “Fortunately, the deceased had no contact with her co-workers prior to her symptomatic period because of her chronic conditions, and her family members have been isolated since the hospitalization and are being monitored for symptoms.”
Although Talbot County officials did not release the name of the woman who died, family and friends of Tammy Rishel-Lopez announced her death on Facebook.
Her brother Bryon Leach posted a Facebook message about his sister’s death, writing “Tammy Rishel-Lopez, I love you and miss you so much.”
Rishel-Lopez was the mother of three children, Tav, Alicia and Jessica. She was a graduate of Easton High School.
“This death is consistent with what we know about this disease,” Wadley said. “We have warned that people over 65 years of age and younger persons with chronic conditions are at a higher risk of a severe infection and death with COVID 19 infections."
Late on Tuesday evening, March 31, Cecil County reported its first COVID-19 related death.
The county government's Facebook page shared the following statement: “We are saddened to learn of the first confirmed COVID-19-related fatality in Cecil County this evening. Our thoughts are extended to the family and friends of the individual who passed. We will provide more details tomorrow as we receive them from the Cecil County Health Department. Be safe, Cecil County, and God bless.”
In a March 28 Facebook post, Peninsula Regional Medical Center announced the passing of a COVID-19 patient be treated at the Salisbury hospital.
"As the disease progresses across our nation, state and region, this is a somber reality being faced by a number of hospitals, healthcare systems, communities and families," the post reads. "Our medical team went to extraordinary efforts to care for this patient, and our hearts remain with the patient's family, friends and loved ones."
As of Monday morning, April 6, the Maryland Department of Health listed 4,045 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the state, with 25,572 tests that returned negative for the disease. There are reportedly 1,059 patients hospitalized, and 184 people who have been released from isolation.
On the Shore, there were listed 37 confirmed cases in Cecil County, 15 in Queen Anne’s, 11 in Wicomico, 10 in Worcester, eight in Talbot, six in Caroline, five in Kent, four in Somerset and one in Dorchester.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are now advising that everyone wear a cloth mask when they go outside their homes. This is to protect others if the wearer is infected but asymptomatic.
"The cloth face cover is meant to protect other people in case you are infected," the CDC website states. "Continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others. The cloth face cover is not a substitute for social distancing."
The CDC states people should not use facemasks meant for healthcare workers.
“At this time we do not have enough surgical masks for our frontline healthcare workers to make these available to the public,” Wadley said.
There are a number of groups throughout the Shore making and donating cloth masks.
“These are great for the public to use, but they should be washed every day. If you don’t have one of the homemade masks, you can use a handkerchief over your nose and mouth. This works too, but again, they must be washed every day,” Wadley said.
Editors B. Rae Perryman and Daniel Divilio contributed to this report.