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Second Army reservist in Florida dies from COVID-19

A second Army reservist in Florida has died from the novel coronavirus. The two soldiers did not work together, according to Army Reserve officials.

Sgt. 1st Class Clifford R. Gooding, 58, tested positive for COVID-19 on June 23 and was initially admitted to Palms of Pasadena Hospital in Saint Petersburg. As his condition worsened, Gooding was transferred to the Largo Medical Center, where he remained until his death on Aug. 28.

Gooding is the seventh U.S. service member to die from COVID-19. He was an Active Guard Reserve soldier serving as the maintenance supervisor for the 301st Field Hospital in Saint Petersburg. Master Sgt. Brian K. Tolliver, the other Florida-based reservist in nearby Pinellas Park, tested positive for the virus on July 10 and died Aug. 17.

The two men were “not the same command” and “they weren’t working with each other,” said Army Reserve spokesman Lt. Col. Simon B. Flake. Contract tracing has been underway in both cases and all those who worked around the two men were tested and quarantined as necessary, Flake added.

Florida experienced a spike in COVID-19 cases during the months of June and July, with the areas around Tampa Bay and Saint Petersburg among the worst impacted. Deaths in the state have reached 11,500, according to Florida public health officials.

Gooding served more than 27 years in the Army, all but three of which were with the Army Reserve. He leaves behind a wife and several children, according to his command.

In total, the Pentagon has reported nearly 38,500 COVID-19 cases among military personnel. There have been more than 8,500 cases among DoD civilians, more than 5,100 cases among dependents and more than 3,600 cases among contractors.

The military suffered its first COVID-related death in March when physician assistant and Army National Guard Capt. Douglas Linn Hickock, 57, died.

Then in April, a 41-year-old Navy chief aboard the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt died of the illness. A 34-year-old Illinois-based Army Reserve soldier died in May, and a 61-year-old Army reservist died earlier this August.

Additionally, a member of the California National Guard assigned to the 40th Combat Aviation Brigade in Fresno died due to the coronavirus in August.

In response to COVID-19, the Army Reserve suspended in-person drill in March and shifted to virtual formations and instruction whenever possible, according to a policy memo.

There have also been 50 civilian deaths, seven dependent deaths and 20 contractor deaths due to COVID-19, according to Pentagon records.

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