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Third service member to die of COVID-19 identified as Army reservist from Illinois

The third U.S. service member to die from coronavirus complications, and the second soldier to pass away from the virus, has been identified as an Army reservist assigned to a unit in Illinois.

Sgt. Simon Zamudio, 34, passed away on May 22 from complications related to COVID-19 at St. Alexius Medical Center in Hoffman Estates, according to the Army and an obituary for the deceased.

The soldier was not on active duty orders when he contracted the virus, and wasn’t mobilized in support of the pandemic response, said Army Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake over the telephone Wednesday.

Zamudio enlisted in the Army Reserve in October 2015, and was assigned to the 371st Theater Movement Control Element at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. He made the rank of sergeant on April 1.

An obituary for the deceased said he was born in Phoenix, Arizona, and is survived by a wife and daughter. An official picture of the deceased soldier was not immediately available. An online fundraiser for Zamudio said he first enlisted as a military policeman.

“He was known for his quick wit, his infectious smile, and his kind and compassionate loving spirit as a brother, a husband and a father,” the fundraiser webpage reads. The organizer for the fundraiser, Cirenia Garcia, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The first service member to die from COVID-19 complications was Capt. Douglass Hickok, a 57-year-old New Jersey Army National Guard physician assistant. Hickok passed away in late March and also was not mobilized to support the pandemic response.

In mid-April, the Navy announced the death of Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Thacker from COVID-19. Thacker had been assigned to the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

Though the military’s COVID-19 infection rate is lower than the national average, the week leading up to the Memorial Day weekend was one of the deadliest of the pandemic thus far for the Department of Defense, where the death toll has reached 35 and includes civilian employees and contractors.

There have been more than 6,100 cases of COVID-19 among uniformed service members, with 165 hospitalizations and 3,460 recoveries.

Of those, 2,376 cases are in the Navy, followed by 1,315 in the Army, 543 in the Marine Corps and 475 in the Air Force. National Guard soldiers and airmen account for another 1,278 cases, as of Monday.

The overall mortality rate for troops is just 0.04 percent, compared to the Department of Defense’s overall rate of 0.4 percent. Nationwide, the mortality rate among known cases stands at 6 percent. The military’s infection rate is 0.3 percent, compared with 0.5 percent nation wide.

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