Second Chicago police officer dies of COVID-19

The deceased was a sergeant in the department’s Area Central detectives division.

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A second Chicago police officer has died of COVID-19, the department confirmed Friday.

The officer, who died Friday, was a sergeant in the police department’s’s Area Central detectives division, according to Tom Ahern, a police spokesman. His immediate family was being notified of his death Friday afternoon, and his identity was not released.

The sergeant’s death is the second COVID-19-related death in the Chicago Police Department in the past two weeks. Last week, narcotics officer Marco DiFranco died from the virus.

DiFranco’s death was deemed to have occurred in the line of duty, entitling his widow and two children to departmental benefits and honors.

The 50-year-old DiFranco was on the department since 1998 and assigned to the Narcotics Division based in the Homan Square facility. Over his career, DiFranco earned more than 150 department awards, including the Superintendent’s Honorable Mention and a special commendation, according to interim police Supt. Charlie Beck.

As of Thursday, nearly 200 Chicago police officers had tested positive for COVID-19. In recent weeks, about 8% of the department has called in sick to work each day — twice the normal rate.

The sergeant is the fifth city employee to die of COVID-19. Earlier this week, veteran Chicago firefighter Mario Araujo succumbed to the virus. He spent most of his career on Truck 25, which operates out of Engine 102 in Rogers Park on the North Side, according to CFD spokesman Larry Langford.

An hour before his death was announced, Mayor Lori Lightfoot was asked whether she has any plans to order mandatory testing for first responders.

“Here’s what we’ve done. One, we’ve stepped up the training. We’ve done a lot of social distancing efforts, particularly around roll calls ... And now, before people check in for duty, they’re getting a temperature check at every district station,” the mayor said after touring the alternate care facility at McCormick Place.

The mayor then ceded the microphone to Chicago Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady to specifically address mandatory testing for first responders.

Arwady said first responders and health care workers are in a “priority group” for testing, but only if they exhibit symptoms or have been exposed to the coronavirus. Mandatory testing for all first responders is simply not possible yet, she said.

“As more of this testing comes online — particularly the kind that you use to do surveillance across populations — that would be the sort of thing we would consider, but right now, we don’t have that capability yet. Everybody is anxious for us to have even more testing capability,” Arwady said.

“We continue to work closely with CPD and CFD where there are cases and making sure that anybody with any symptoms is not working. We’re making sure testing is getting arranged in that setting. That’s on our list as testing capacity grows. That’s something that could become more of a new normal down the line.”

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