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LSCO professor passes from COVID-19

By Dawn Burleigh and I.C. Murrell

Lamar State College Orange (LSCO) issued a press release on Monday stating the death of a beloved faculty member related to complications from COVID-19.

The faculty member, later identified as Chris Stewts, had not been on campus for a number of weeks; classes have not been held on campus since March 13, so students were not at risk of exposure at any time.

“The students were never exposed to the virus on campus,” LSCO President Dr. Thomas Johnson said.

Two employees who had been in contact with the affected faculty member self-monitored for 14-days from the date of exposure as a precaution, but did not develop attributable symptoms.

The areas where the faculty member worked have been thoroughly cleaned and sanitized.

Most of the 11 buildings composing of the campus were sanitized and locked in March as the pandemic began breeching Orange County. Three remaining buildings are currently being sanitized as the college continues online courses through the summer.

Stewts was the fourth person from Port Arthur to die from coronavirus-related causes had self-quarantined before being admitted to the hospital on April 6 and was never discharged.

Family members say Chris Stewts, 68, died at 1:30 a.m. Sunday, almost a month after he was admitted to a Beaumont hospital. The Port Arthur Health Department announced the death Sunday, without identifying Stewts.

Health Department Director Judith Smith said the man’s positive case was reported weeks earlier. The city has reported 46 cases during the pandemic. The city of Orange has reported 21 cases as of Monday evening and 81 for Orange County.

“A person with any type of underlying health conditions, even though they may go through a period of recovery, we don’t know enough about the coronavirus to see what effect it has on all the organs,” Smith said. “We don’t know why some people do so well and why some people do not.

“A person may have some type of recovery and may not. We don’t know what the person is recovering from. We do know for many people who have the underlying conditions — put this on top of [coronavirus] being new — you don’t know what it’s going to do.”

It’s not known whether someone who had coronavirus can attract the disease again or if the deceased tested negative at the end of his first quarantine.