CHICAGO (WLS) -- A 50-year-old Chicago police officer has died from COVID-19, the department said Thursday.
Chicago Police News Affairs said the death is the department's first as a result of the pandemic.
Officer Marco DiFranco contracted the virus last week and was hospitalized last weekend, Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Chicago Police Interim Superintendent Charlie Beck said at a press conference Thursday. His name was released with consent from the family, Mayor Lightfoot said.
"Since the moment this crisis arrived in our city, it has been our healthcare workers, first responders, like this officer, who have been putting their lives on the line every day to fight this fight and keep Chicagoans safe," Lightfoot said.
"Tragically, this officer gave his life to that fight. Our hearts go out to the individual's family, friends and fellow officers whose lives have been forever changed by this terrible loss."
Officer DiFranco was a 21-year veteran of the department, worked out of the Homan Square station, and served in the Narcotics Division. His brother serves in the same division, Beck said. Officer DiFranco is survived by his wife and two children, ages 10 and 7.
"I spoke with to Officer DiFranco's wife right before I came out here," Lightfoot said. "Those are very hard conversations to have with a wife and a family sitting in that moment with their grief."
"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 at home," Interim Superintendent Beck said.
Commander Matt Cline was a long-time colleague of DiFranco's.
"When I was a sergeant in gangs and we needed somebody to go undercover that real has the gift to be able to talk to people and be able to think on the fly, Marco was the guy we always reached out to, asked to do these undercover assignments," he said.
Officer DiFranco's picture is not being released due to the sensitive nature of his work, which is still continuing. His death seemed to weigh on colleagues as they reported for work. Beck said of course other officers are worried about the virus, perhaps now more than ever.
"But I will say this, that they show up for work, they work hard, they believe in their profession, they believe in this city and I have seen no unwillingness to push forward and keep the city safe during this crisis," Beck said.
"We are taking precautions whenever we respond to a call and yes, we are taking into the back of our minds that every case could be a positive case," said Fraternal Order of Police President Kevin Graham.
Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement, "We are devastated to confirm that #COVID19 has hit the Chicago Police Department and a dedicated family of city public servants very hard."
At least 60 members of the department have contracted the disease.
Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.