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Hospital ICU chief "selflessly" treated patients during the pandemic. He died from coronavirus.

1,000+ U.S. COVID deaths 5 days in past week 06:46

Dr. Joseph J. Costa, the ICU Chief of a Baltimore hospital, died Saturday due to the coronavirus after "selflessly" treating patients during the pandemic on the frontlines, the hospital announced. He was 56 years old.

Costa worked as the Chief of the Division of Critical Care at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore for the past 15 years and had worked at the hospital since 1997, the hospital's Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees, Sister Helen Amos, and the President and CEO of the hospital, David N. Maine, said in a joint statement sent to CBS News via email and in a post on the hospital's Facebook page Saturday announcing his death. 

The hospital said in the statement that Costa "dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients" and he continued to do so during the coronavirus pandemic.

"When the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the frontlines — deeply committed to serving our patients and our City during this time of great need," the statement said. "His memory will live on as an example to us all."

Dr. Joseph Costa died on Saturday after fighting on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic. Mercy Medical Center

The hospital said Costa was "admired and respected" throughout the region for his clinical expertise and "beloved" by his patients and their families. It continued he was "like an older brother that all admired and revered," to the nurses and staff who worked closely with him in the Intensive Care Unit. "He will be missed greatly," the statement added. 

Costa is survived by his husband David Hart, the hospital confirmed to CBS News. The couple was married for 28 years. Hart told "The Baltimore Sun" that he was with his husband as he died.

According to the outlet, approximately 20 of Costa's colleagues put on a vigil for him as he lay dying — putting their hands, sheathed in blue gloves, on him. He died at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, the hospital confirmed to CBS News.

"Those who cared for Joe were his best friends," Hart said, according to the outlet. "A housekeeper who knelt by his bed and shook with grief said, 'I'm now losing my best friend.'"

The hospital said planning for a memorial service for the doctor is underway. 

Dear Friends of Mercy, It is with great sadness that we mourn the loss of Joseph J. Costa, M.D., Chief, Division of...

Posted by Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, MD on Saturday, July 25, 2020

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Maryland surpassed 85,000 on Tuesday, according to the state's department of health. There have been 3,327 confirmed deaths and 544 people are currently hospitalized due to the virus as of Tuesday, according to the state. 

Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, the vice dean for public health practice and community engagement and a professor of the practice at Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CBS Baltimore that he is concerned about the increasing cases in Maryland. 

"We're in a country that is not able to control this virus. There are many states seeing record highs. People come into Maryland all the time," he said. "I think we're vulnerable to a surge in infections. I definitely think it's necessary to do more than what is being done in the state."

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