Doctor, 67, in South Florida Dies From Coronavirus: 'He Is a Hero in My Eyes'

A 67-year-old doctor from South Florida became the first medical professional to die from coronavirus in the region just as the United States became home to the most cases of the disease in the world. According to the WPTV, Dr. Alex Hsu — an...

Doctor, 67, in South Florida Dies From Coronavirus: 'He Is a Hero in My Eyes'

A 67-year-old doctor from South Florida became the first medical professional to die from coronavirus in the region just as the United States became home to the most cases of the disease in the world.

According to the WPTV, Dr. Alex Hsu — an internist in Margate, a city in Broward County — was confirmed to have died from coronavirus by the county’s medical examiner on Thursday. Hsu, who practiced internal medicine for nearly four decades, is the fourth person in the area to die from complications of the disease, also known as COVID-19, the news station reported.

“Dr. Hsu, a well-respected member of the medical community, was an active medical staff member at Northwest Medical Center from 1995-2017,” Jessica Waxman, a spokesperson for the hospital where Hsu was affiliated, said in a statement to WPTV. “He positively touched many of our patients’ lives throughout the years, and he will truly be missed. Our deepest condolences go out to his family.”

Hsu graduated from the University of Hawaii’s medical school in 1982 and did his residency at the University of Louisville, the Miami Herald reported. He then earned his medical license in Florida in 1984.

“Our community was very saddened by the news of Dr. Alex Hsu,” Lana Van, a family friend, said in a statement posted by WPLG. “He was very genuine. He never denied anyone without insurance.”

“It’s so sad,” a receptionist at Hsu’s practice told the Sun-Sentinel

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Others who know Hsu took to social media to express their frustrations for the circumstances surrounding his death, and to raise awareness for the importance of practicing social distancing during the coronavirus outbreak.

“Sadly today, We lost a colleague and friend to COVID-19, Alex Hsu, MD,” wrote friend Roly Moré on Facebook.

“He is a ‘hero’ in my eyes! RIP Alex Hsu, MD,” he continued. “How many physicians have to die before the public realizes that the only way to conquer this virus is ‘self-isolation!’ ”

The news of Hsu’s death comes just as the U.S. surpassed China and Italy for the most coronavirus cases in the world.

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The majority of the cases in the U.S. are in New York, which has 38,987 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 432 deaths as of Friday afternoon. Florida has now seen 2,477 cases and 28 deaths, according to the New York Times. 

The deadly virus has quickly spread worldwide since the first case in Wuhan, China, in December. This has led the World Health Organization to declare a public health emergency, and later, a global pandemic.

Several states, including New York, California, Illinois, and Washington have issued stay-at-home orders in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDCWHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.