Jazmond “Jazz” Dixon, 31, has died due to COVID-19, the first novel coronavirus-related death in the City of St. Louis.
Speaking as a representative of the family, Dixon’s cousin Belafae Johnson Jr. told the St. Louis American that she came from a large family with many aunts, uncles and cousins, who are all devastated. Dixon and her mother were “best friends.”
“We need to use Jazmond to really make an imprint in our hearts of the seriousness of this,” Johnson said. “Our health officials are laboring over what to do and what’s possible to help stop the spread. Our family is advocating for people to humble themselves and make decisions for the greater good. We don’t live on a large planet. A few weeks ago, we were hearing about this happen in China, and now this is on our doorstep. This is serious.”
On Tuesday, March 17, Dixon started feeling like she had the flu and was having trouble breathing, so she went to an Urgent Care, Johnson said. The doctors there felt she needed more care, so she was admitted into a local hospital emergency room the same day. By Thursday, she was on a ventilator, and she passed away on Sunday evening. Johnson believes she was officially diagnosed with COVID-19 on Friday.
Dixon could have caught the virus anywhere between family functions, work or social gatherings, Johnson said.
“That’s what makes it so unnerving,” he said. “That’s why we wanted to get out and share her story and give out the most accurate information as we can.”
Dixon was a 2007 graduate of Jennings High School.
“Our hearts are broken for the loss of one of our warriors,” said Art McCoy, superintendent of the Jennings School District. “She was a beautiful young lady who stayed connected to her teachers. We are prayerful, and we will get through this but we have to make sure we take care of each other in this critical time.”
Dixon was a biomedical services employee at the American Red Cross Blood Center on Lindell Avenue, who did not come into contact with donors or other members of the public as part of her daily job duties, according to a statement from the Red Cross. Her LinkedIn profile states that she was an equipment systems technician, who “managed the computerized maintenance management system.”
One other employee who worked in the same building also tested positive for the virus, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported, and another staff member is presumed to be positive through a medical assessment but has not been tested.
“Our hearts and greatest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this employee during this difficult time,” according to the Red Cross statement.
Dixon was a graduate of Harris-Stowe State University and earned a master’s degree from Lindenwood University in business administration.
Health officials said Dixon had not traveled and didn’t know where she caught the virus. Her family said they are not aware of any major health issues that could have contributed to COVID-19 being her cause of death.
Mayor Lyda Krewson identified her only as a St. Louis city woman when she announced her death on Monday, March 23 at a 2 p.m. press conference. Dixon is the second coronavirus-related death in the St. Louis region.
“This should be a wake-up call for all of us, particularly for anyone who questions the gravity of this issue,” Krewson said. “We know COVID-19 is very, very serious.”
There is evidence that COVID-19 is now community spread, meaning that it is being contracted from others in the area rather than being strictly travel-related, said Dr. Fredrick Echols, director of the city’s health department.
“There’s been rumors and myths circulating in the community,” Echols said. “One of those myths is that young people can’t get it. This case is evidence that young people can get it and that it can cause death.”
Echols said the health department is working with her family to track where she may have been exposed to the virus.
On March 23, the city recorded 22 cases, and that’s up from 14 cases on March 22. However, Echols said they are being updated by the state “minute by minute.”
On Friday, March 20, St. Louis County Executive Sam Page announced the county’s first COVID-19-related death. It was Judy Wilson-Griffin, a nurse at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital.
On Sunday, the county reported its largest number of new cases on one day to date – 38. That brought the total number of positive cases in the county to 55, as of March 22. The county also reported its first teenager with COVID-19 and nine new cases in their twenties. However on March 23, the county reported 90 cases – with another 35 new cases.
Starting March 23, all city and county residents have been ordered to stay at home until April 22. The order means that everyone in the city and the county — including incorporated and unincorporated areas — must stay home, except for making essential trips or outdoor recreation. Everyone must abide by social distancing guidelines at all times, including staying six feet from other people outside of their households.
It also means that all county businesses and city businesses are required to cease all activities, except for “minimum basic operations” and working from home. The order restricts travel to things like going to work at an “essential business,” to buy food, to care for other people, and to get learning materials or meals from schools.
The goal is to stop the spread of the disease, Krewson said, and to prevent other deaths.
Krewson said, “On behalf of myself, my team, all of us here in the city, I send my deepest condolences and sympathy to this individual’s family, friends and loved ones.”
Here is the full statement from the American Red Cross Missouri:
The American Red Cross recently learned that a Biomedical Services employee who worked in a non-public facing function at our Lindell Avenue building in St. Louis has passed away due to COVID-19. Our hearts and greatest sympathies go out to the family and friends of this employee during this difficult time.
We know this is an uncertain and trying time for many in St. Louis and in communities across the country. The Red Cross remains committed to supporting the community and those we serve as part of our lifesaving mission. We do want to note that the individual did not come into contact with donors or other members of the public as part of their daily job duties.
In the interest of remaining vigilant, the Red Cross implemented enhanced cleaning of the entire Lindell building last week which includes the regularly wiping down of common surfaces, such as doors, handrails, elevator buttons and countertops. This past weekend, following notification of an ill employee, we also completed an additional enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of the building, using CDC recommended chemicals. Out of an abundance of caution, we have closed the Donor Center today and are conducting deep cleaning of the entire area. We take the safety of our employees, volunteers and donors seriously.
There is no known exposure risk to donors who have visited this center. We want to emphasize that donating blood is a safe process and that Red Cross staff already adhere to the highest standards of safety and infection control.
Earlier this month, we also added additional safety protocols which include asking all of those at our blood donation center – both staff and donors – to use hand sanitizer before entering a drive, and throughout the drive as needed. In addition, we implemented standard staff health assessments prior to all blood drives to ensure staff are healthy the day of the drive. The Red Cross had also begun taking temperature checks of presenting donors before they enter the blood drive or donation center. These mitigation measures help ensure staff and donor safety in reducing contact with those who may potentially have this, or any, respiratory infection.
The need for blood is constant and will continue throughout this outbreak. Volunteer donors are the only source of blood for those in need.