Family says Delano resident, Susie Garcia is the first person to die of COVID-19

Susie Garcia
Posted at 6:23 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-28 13:38:17-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — The first Kern County resident has died of the coronavirus. Family members say Delano resident Susie Garcia died at 3 a.m. Friday.

According to a gofundme started by her family and friends, Garcia was a mother who leaves behind her three children, grandchildren, family and friends. Garcia has been a resident of Delano since 2001. They said, "She has battled a long journey throughout recent years, where she was hospitalized multiple times and had near death experience. Susie had triple bypass heart surgery, nearly lost her leg from a brown raucous spider bite, and has suffered multiple health conditions throughout the years."

Those close to Garcia who started the gofundme said, "She was a strong business woman throughout the years in the community. She was loved by many family and friends of the community and was known for her cheerful and loving personality."

Despite the fact that the California Department of Public Health said that Kern Count Public Health can legally provide whatever information they want to release, when 23ABC asked the Kern County Public Health Services if they were considering releasing information about the patient's age or any other information that may ease concerns for residents, Michelle Corson of the KCPHS said they are approaching this pandemic the same way that they approach other diseases.

"We are going to do what we do with all of the other diseases and we are going to continue to follow the guidelines that we have," said Corson. "Again, I say with flu and Valley Fever and we're going to stay on that path. But we are going to make our public aware of anything they need to know to protect them."

Corson continued to reiterate that public health is following state guidelines by not releasing the patient's age, city of residence, or health background.

When 23ABC reached out to the California Department of Public Health they stated: "the release of information is at the discretion of the county."

The Kern County Public Health Services said background information surrounding the patient who died is irrelevant at this time, because it doesn't change their recommendations that residents should take during this pandemic. This includes social distancing, washing your hands and staying home.

Officials did confirm some information. They told 23ABC that seven of the people who have tested positive were isolated at a local Kern County hospital but they would not say which hospital.

As of Friday night 40 Kern County residents, plus the one non-resident have tested positive for the coronavirus. At this time 765 people have tested negative and more than 900 tests are still pending.