57-Year-Old Los Angeles Firefighter, a Father of Four, Dies of Coronavirus on New Year's Day

Capt. George Roque, a 22-year veteran of the Los Angeles Fire Department and father of four, died of coronavirus on New Year's Day, becoming the second firefighter in the department to die of the disease in the last six months.

"It is with a heavy heart on this first day of the new year that we announce the death of LAFD Captain I George Roque, who passed away earlier today at an area hospital from complications of COVID-19," Los Angeles City Fire Department Chief Ralph M. Terrazas said in a Facebook post of the death of the 57-year-old firefighter, who died on Jan. 1.

Roque — who was assigned to the Laurel Canyon and Mulholland area of Los Angeles — leaves behind a wife and four children.

"On behalf of the men and women of the LAFD, I send my deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Roque family and his friends and colleagues throughout the Department," Terrazas continued in his statement.

The department gave no further details about how and when Roque became infected with the deadly respiratory disease.

It's unclear if Roque suffered from any pre-existing medical conditions prior to contracting the virus. People ages 65 and older are at a higher risk of severe illness from coronavirus, as are people with underlying medical conditions, including heart conditions, obesity, diabetes, liver disease and chronic kidney disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Roque is now the second LAFD firefighter to die due to complications from coronavirus following the July 2020 death of 44-year-old firefighter/paramedic Jose Perez. According to KTLA, Perez died just over two weeks after he was diagnosed. He is survived by his wife and three young children, a GoFundMe set up to benefit his family said.

"It was not uncommon that he would spend his own personal money to buy medications for people who were less fortunate and cannot afford them, often he was found not only providing excellent medical care but offering a shoulder to lean on to anyone who needed it," a message on the donation page read.

"He was a prodigious firefighter who worked tirelessly to always become better. He dedicated his life to helping others," it continued. "His generosity and compassion for people will be deeply missed."

According to a New York Times database, there have been nearly 21 million coronavirus cases reported in the United States.

The outlet reported 201,980 new cases on Sunday alone, which is only a 1 percent decrease in the average number of cases over the previous two weeks.

Of the millions who have contracted the virus in the United States over the last 10 months, 352,397 have died as of Monday morning, the Times reported.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from the CDC, WHO and local public health departments. PEOPLE has partnered with GoFundMe to raise money for the COVID-19 Relief Fund, a GoFundMe.org fundraiser to support everything from frontline responders to families in need, as well as organizations helping communities. For more information or to donate, click here.

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