A Boston Police officer has died from COVID-19 complications, the department said Tuesday. It's the first reported death involving a BPD officer during the coronavirus pandemic.
Officer Jose Fontanez was a 29-year veteran of the department, Mayor Marty Walsh said at a City Hall press conference Tuesday evening. BPD initially announced the death in a statement Tuesday afternoon, but did not name the officer or provide further details while it was "working to inform extended family members."
Police Commissioner William Gross said Fontanez began his BPD career in 1991, serving primarily in Jamaica Plain and earning several commissioner's commendations. Fontanez had been receiving care at Boston Medical Center.
"He fought a valiant and courageous fight against COVID-19," Gross said.
Walsh noted the seventh anniversary of the Boston Marathon bombing is Wednesday, and said first responders were there for the city then, and are now.
"This pandemic is a different kind of danger, but it's just as traumatic," he said.
Gov. Charlie Baker also commented on the death during an earlier press conference Tuesday at Joint Base Cape Cod in Buzzards Bay, where the state has set up a field hospital for coronavirus patients. The death is representative of the sacrifice police officers and other first responders are making on the frontlines, Baker said.
"The simple truth is, the vast majority of the people who work in state government are showing up — every single day — and many of them do very difficult things. And I've said before that ... in times like this, the public sector matters more than it does in many cases," Baker said. "And in this particular case, obviously, my heart and I think everybody's heart goes out to him and to his family — and especially to his brothers and sisters in uniform."
Gross said 67 Boston Police officers have tested positive for the coronavirus to date. Some have been able to return to work, he said. As of Monday, Boston has 4,086 total reported cases of coronavirus — a figure which has more than doubled in the past week — and 69 total deaths linked to the disease.
WBUR earlier reported a Boston Police officer had tested positive for coronavirus. It is unclear if the death BPD announced Tuesday is linked to the previously reported case.
This article was originally published on April 14, 2020.