BALTIMORE (WJZ)– State health officials are on alert after 11 people die in last week’s heat wave.

Meghan McCorkell reports health officials are putting out a warning to try and prevent more deaths.

Twenty-one people have now died this year in Maryland from heat-related illnesses. With several more weeks of summer left, the state health department is raising the red flag.

No matter what the temperature, James Mitchell sits outside his North Patterson Park Avenue home everyday.

“I used to work in a galvanize,” said James Mitchell. “And it was between 145 and 165 degrees. So, the heat don’t bother me.”

He doesn’t even have air conditioning in his home.

“I’m 68 years old, and people ask, ‘How can you stand it?'” he said. “I’m sitting here. I’m comfortable. I’m not exerting myself.”

But  it’s people like Mitchell that potentially worry health officials.

“What concerns me is, does he have neighbors that come by and check on him,” Dr. Clifford Mitchell said. “Is he talking with people? When they come and talk to him, is he alert? Is he oriented?”

These questions are even more important after last week’s heat claimed 11 lives in the state.

“A number that concerns me is any death related to heat because these are all preventable deaths,” Dr. Mitchell said.

Last week, four people died in Baltimore City, two more in both Anne Arundel and Wicomico counties. One person died in Baltimore, Cecil and Worcester counties.

Seven of the victims were over age 65. Four others were between 45 and 64.

Three hundred and thirty-two people across the state were also rushed to emergency rooms with heat-related illnesses last week.

“It felt like a furnace,” Mitchell said. “It doesn’t bother me. I think about something else.”

That’s why many opted to stay inside. But not James Mitchell, who says he’ll keep sitting on his stoop all summer long.

Doctors say Mitchell may be just fine, as long as he takes precautions and stays hydrated. The heat claimed 32 lives in Maryland last summer.

Autopsies are now being performed on those that died last week to determine if they were aware of their underlying health problems.


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