Coronavirus | COVID-19 Updates

California National Guardsman dies from COVID-19 — sixth service member to perish from virus

A member of the California National Guard died last week due to COVID-19 — bringing the number of service members who’ve died from the virus up to six.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Shiroma, a spokesperson for the California Military Department, confirmed to Military Times a 36-year-old staff sergeant died on Aug. 20 from the coronavirus.

Shiroma declined to provide the soldier’s identity and other specifics “out of respect to the family,” but noted he was assigned to the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade in Fresno.

The Pentagon reports there have been more than 32,000 COVID-19 cases among military personnel, nearly 8,000 cases among DoD civilians, nearly 5,000 cases among dependents, and almost 3,500 cases among contractors.

The military encountered its first COVID-related death in March after Army Capt. Douglas Linn Hickock, 57, with the New Jersey National Guard died. Hickock, a physician assistant, was hospitalized in Pennsylvania where he lived, and died a week later. It’s unclear where he contracted the virus, given he worked at a medical clinic in Connecticut and had traveled to a conference in New Jersey less than a week before he was hospitalized.

Other service members who’ve died from complications related to COVID-19 are Navy Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Robert Thacker Jr., 41; Army reservist Sgt. Simon Zamudio, 34; Army reservist Spc. Curtis Fort, 61; and Army reservist Master Sgt. Brian K. Tolliver, 46.

Tolliver died in Largo, Florida three days before the California National Guard soldier died.

In addition to the six service members, 49 civilians, seven dependents and 16 DoD contractors have also died from the virus, according to Pentagon statistics as of Tuesday morning.

Military Times previously reported that while the service’s 1-percent infection rate is approximately commensurate with that of the general population, service members have experienced significantly lower death and hospitalization rates. While the death rate is 3 percent across the U.S., the death rate for military cases is 0.0001 percent.

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