In a statement, Mercy President David N. Maine and executive-level board member Sister Helen Amos said Dr. Costa died at the age of 56 on July 25 after spending more than two decades as a "beloved member" of the Mercy family.
"He was also a true friend to many," Maine and Amos said. "He dedicated his life and career to caring for the sickest patients. And when the global pandemic came down upon us, Joe selflessly continued his work on the front lines—deeply committed to serving our patients and our city during this time of great need."
Dr. Costa's husband of nearly three decades, David Hart, spoke with the Baltimore Sun about his partner's years of selfless bravery.
"I get so angry when I see people not wearing masks," Hart, who held Dr. Costa in his arms while he died, said. "It makes me want to take a bar of soap and write on my car's rearview window that 'My husband who saved so many lives died of COVID-19. Wear a mask!'"
While plans for a memorial service are in progress, with information expected to be announced soon, the Baltimore Sun report adds that about 20 of his colleagues held a vigil while he lay dying "and placed their blue-gloved hands on him."
Many more have mourned Dr. Costa's death in social media posts that also call attention to the seriousness with which COVID-19 should be taken in the U.S. despite perpetually inept leadership from many in the White House. While Dr. Anthony Fauci has received "serious threats" due to the rise of virus-denying conspiracy theorists, the President of the United States (and Trump Jr.) have worsened the divide by amplifying misinformation.