Texas’ first COVID-19 death was 97-year-old World War II veteran

Texas’ first reported coronavirus COVID-19-related death has been identified.

Eddie Roberts, 97, of Bay City was a World War Two veteran of the US Army when he died Sunday, Raymond Mills, commander of the American Legion in Bay City, told FOX 26. Roberts died Sunday at Matagorda Regional Medical Center in his hometown of Bay City.

Before his death, a coronavirus test was administered, and on Monday—a day after his death—it came back positive for COVID-19, according to a press release from the Matagorda County Hospital District.

The Bay City Tribune published a photo of Roberts with his obituary showing the army veteran posing for a studio headshot before his death.

While an autopsy is not yet available, Matagorda County Judge Nate McDonald says Roberts had already been in the hospital with some other health issues when the COVID-19 test was administered.

With only two other confirmed cases in the county, how did this 97-year-old man catch the coronavirus? McDonald says he is being led to believe Roberts caught the virus from the first woman who tested positive for it in the county. He says she was a sitter or caretaker for him.

The spokesman for the Matagorda Regional Medical Center said the Texas Dept. of State Health Services has launched an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Roberts’ death. He said when someone is diagnosed with COVID-19, state epidemiologists have a team that goes in and tracks down where that person lives, where they work, and so on—to find out who else may have come in contact with the virus.

State health officials declined to disclose any details of that investigation when FOX 26 inquired Wednesday.

After serving in the Army, Roberts went on to own Duncan-Roberts Funeral Home in Bay City, which he owned when he died, employees at the funeral home told FOX 26.

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