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Calif. Firefighter-Paramedic Dies of COVID-19

Daily News, Los Angeles

A Los Angeles firefighter who contracted COVID-19 died on Saturday, the first in the department to die from the disease.

Officials have not said when or where it’s believed Firefighter-Paramedic Jose M. Perez was exposed to the coronavirus. The Los Angeles Fire Department also didn’t say whether Perez was in the hospital or quarantining at home at the time of his death.

Perez, 44, had been with LAFD for more than 16 years, officials said. He is survived by his wife and three children.

“Fire Chief Ralph Terrazas and the entire Department send their deepest and most sincere condolences to the Perez family,” a statement read.

Police, including Orange County Sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol units, escorted a procession Saturday night bearing Perez’s casket through La Palma to Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whitter.

LAFD, like other essential public agencies, has been hit hard by the pandemic.

As of Friday, 145 LAFD employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since March. Among those, 108 employees have recovered and reported back to work. Another 36 are still recovering at home.

An LAFD spokesman was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.

The Los Angeles Police Department on Friday lost its first sworn officer to the coronavirus.

Officer Valentin “Val” Martinez, 45, died from complications tied to COVID-19, department and union officials said. LAPD officials did not say how the officer became exposed to the virus.

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