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Healthcare worker tested positive for COVID-19, but Piedmont Healthcare claims cause of death 'inconclusive'

On Tuesday, the coroner identified the woman as Dedra Wilkes.

NEWNAN, Ga. — A metro Atlanta city's first death from the coronavirus was a healthcare worker with no underlying health issues, the Coweta County coroner said on Saturday. But on Tuesday, Piedmont Healthcare released a statement saying the cause of death is still inconclusive.

Coroner Richard Hawk said over the weekend that the 42-year-old Newnan woman - whose name was not initially released -  died Thursday at her home. Hawk confirmed that a letter was sent to residents of the Promenade at Newnan Crossing where the woman lived. He also confirmed that she worked in healthcare. 

On Tuesday, the coroner identified the woman as Dedra Wilkes.

Piedmont Healthcare released a statement Tuesday evening saying they were saddened by the news that a colleague had died. However, they said "we understand from those responsible for determining cause of death that it is still inconclusive."

"However, because we were told that an initial COVID-19 test performed after her death was positive, and because we know people can expose others before they show evidence of the disease, as a cautionary measure, we have contacted the employees and patients who may have had contact with this employee in the days leading up to the colleague’s last day at work," the statement reads.

"Piedmont is providing these individuals with detailed information for self-monitoring and will offer COVID-19 testing to those who request it. This employee did not work in an area treating known or suspected COVID-19 patients. Our thoughts and prayers are with the employee’s family during this difficult time," the statement said.

As of March 24, the Georgia Department of Public Health reports 10 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Coweta County.

And with 1,097 cases statewide, counties and cities around metro Atlanta - and the state - are taking drastic measures to prevent the cases from growing around them. A total of 38 deaths have been reported in Georgia. 

Newnan itself has already postponed all city events and programs and suspended meetings. Most city buildings and government offices, including public restrooms in parks, have also been restricted to public access.

At 11Alive News, our coverage of the coronavirus is rooted in Facts, not Fear. Visit 11alive.com/coronavirus-covid-19 for comprehensive coverage. 

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