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More law enforcement deaths in 2020 due to coronavirus than bullet wounds

(Facebook Photo/Navajo Police Department)

PHOENIX — Statistics gathered by the Officer Down Memorial Page suggest that nearly twice as many law enforcement officials have died this year from coronavirus exposure than from bullet wounds.

As of Tuesday, the Officer Down Memorial Page reports 52 law enforcers have died from COVID-19. The most dangerous state was Texas, with 24 job-related deaths and three times as many as the number two state of Illinois.

Nationally, April was the deadliest month with 38 officers dying following complications with COVID-19.

Since the beginning of the outbreak in Arizona, three law enforcement officials have died after they contracted coronavirus.

Police officer Michael Lee belonged to the Navajo Division of Public Safety, Tribal Police. He passed away June 19 due to COVID-19, according to the Navajo Police Department. Lee served for 29 years before his death.

Roughly one month later, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office announced July 6 the department lost two members. That includes Sgt. Ernie Quintero, a 25-year veteran who worked at the Court Security Division and Kevin Fletcher, a 15-year veteran who was currently working inside the 4th Avenue Jail as a detention officer.

MCSO did not confirm their deaths were due to COVID-19. However, the executive director of the Arizona Police Association, Joe Clure, told KTAR News 92.3 FM, “They had both been in the hospital with COVID-19 when they passed.”

No deaths have been reported within the Phoenix Police Department despite the 150 COVID-19 cases confirmed within the force, according to the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association.

“By the nature of our job, even though we take the same precautions that everyone else does, I think it’s a lot more difficult due to the fact that we sometimes have to have contact with other people that may or may not be taking the same precautions we are,” Britt London, president of PLEA, told KTAR News on Tuesday.

It is still unclear whether first responders in Arizona will be eligible for workers’ compensation if they contract coronavirus on the job. Three major unions representing police officers and firefighters across the state have asked Gov. Doug Ducey to ensure their health benefits with an executive order, but he has not done that.

A spokesperson for Ducey told KTAR News the office asked the Arizona Industrial Commission to review all coronavirus-related first responder workers’ compensation claims in good faith.

For all articles, information and updates on the coronavirus from KTAR News, visit ktar.com/coronavirus.

Arizona open and hiring: If you’re looking for job openings, visit ktar.com/arizonahiring.

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