The Chicago Police Department on Thursday suffered its first fatality to COVID-19.
Officer Marco Di Franco, 50, was pronounced dead at 1:02 a.m. at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, according to the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced his death at a news conference with interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck and Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 7 President Kevin Graham.
Lightfoot said health care workers and first responders are risking their lives every day to keep the public safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Tragically, this officer gave his life to that fight,” Lightfoot said. “Our hearts go out to the individual’s family, friends and fellow officers whose lives have been forever changed by this terrible loss.”
Di Franco, a 21-year department veteran, worked in a citywide narcotics unit, officers say.
A police source who wished to remain anonymous out of concern for his job said Di Franco worked from an office in the department’s Jefferson Park patrol station and that the office was sanitized last week due to the officer’s illness.
Beck said the officer’s survivors include his wife and two children, ages 7 and 10, and a brother who also worked in the narcotics unit.
By late Wednesday, 62 sworn Chicago officers and two civilian CPD employees had tested positive for COVID-19, according to CPD.
Beck said Di Franco contracted the virus last week and was hospitalized over the weekend. He said officials had not determined whether the transmission took place on duty.
Beck said the officer had received 154 awards from the department since his 1998 hire.
“His sacrifice underscores the threats that are faced by public safety employees who are not, by nature of their profession, allowed to shelter in place, shelter at home,” Beck said.
In an internal CPD memo obtained by WBEZ, Beck said on Thursday morning that Di Franco had previous health issues.
“Despite some previous health challenges, the severity of the COVID-19 became overbearing,” Beck said in the memo.
Chip Mitchell reports out of WBEZ’s West Side studio about criminal justice. Follow him at @ChipMitchell1.