JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As a precaution during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Medical Examiners Office in Jacksonville has closed its lobby to the public.
The office performs autopsies for Clay, Duval and Nassau counties.
As most people try to stay away from each other to avoid possible contact with coronavirus, medical professionals will come in close contact with COVID-19 every day. Chief Medical Examiner Doctor Robert Pietak and his staff have seen deaths due to the virus during autopsies and through medical records.
“I have certified two deaths related to COVID-19 through the examination of medical records," Pietak said.
The Medical Examiner Commissioner requires COVID-19 deaths to be reviewed by a county’s medical examiners office.
If someone dies at a hospital from COVID-10, the body will not go to a medical examiner’s office but documents will be approved and the death will be confirmed.
If a person died and the reason is unknown, the body is taken to a medical examiner’s office, the examiner will do standard tests and one for COVID-19.
Examiners have always had strict medical procedures to protect themselves from any disease. They follow similar procedures for a body that might be carrying Tuberculosis or AIDS.
Doctors are covered from head to toe. If there is a possibility a body was infected with COVID-19, it can not go into the standard autopsy room.
“We will take that extra step and bring that body in to a special isolated room that is separate from our main autopsy suite, just to take that extra precaution and to make sure its not exposed to other individuals,” Pietak said.
It is still unknown if the virus can be transferred to others after someone dies.