Heroic Gay ICU Doc Dies of COVID-19 After Months of Treating Virus Patients

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Tuesday July 28, 2020

Dr. Joseph Costa
Dr. Joseph Costa  (Source:Mercy Medical Center)

A heroic gay doctor working at a Baltimore hospital's intensive care unit to save the lives of COVID-19 patients succumbed to the disease himself, surrounded by co-workers and his husband of nearly three decades, The Baltimore Sun reports.

Dr. Joseph Costa died "in his own ICU" at Mercy Medical Center on July 25, the news article said. He had headed up the hospital's critical care division. His husband, David Hart, held Costa close and his co-workers surrounded him in his final moments.

Said Hart: "I keep thinking, now there is one less ICU doctor to care for pandemic patients in Baltimore."

A former medical resident who had worked with Costa remembered him in a social media post in which she recalled "caring for very sick patients on the floor, & feeling so much calmer when Dr. Costa came to help."

Dr. Costa's death from the virus - as rates continue to climb in the United States and fatalities mount - adds to a grim toll COVID-19 has taken on medical personnel who put their lives on the line simply to do their jobs.

Noted the Baltimore Sun:

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at least 576 healthcare workers have died from complications caused by COVID-19 — a figure that is likely low due to incomplete data.

Efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the U.S., have been hampered by the politicization of the disease and common-sense steps that can help limit the contagion's reach, such as social distancing and wearing face masks.

Masks not only help prevent people in close contact reduce their chances of contracting the virus; they also help stop people who may be infected and asymptomatic from unknowingly spreading the virus to others.

People with the virus can remain symptom-free for up to two weeks. Even when symptoms do appear, in some cases they can be very mild. But in other cases, the virus can ravage its victims' vital organs, particularly the respiratory tract. While not all of the risk factors are well understood yet, people with underlying chronic health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, asthma, or kidney or heart disease seem to be at greater risk of becoming seriously ill or dying. In other cases, however, people who had seemed perfectly healthy and were not known to be living with such underlying conditions have been struck down by the illness.

Hart addressed the issue of people refusing to take simple precautions, telling the Baltimore Sun: "I get so angry when I see people not wearing masks.

"It makes me want to take a bar of soap and write on my car's rearview window that, 'My husband who saved so many lives died of COVID-19. Wear a mask!' "

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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