First U.S. service member dies of coronavirus

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(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Secretary of Defense Mark Esper says a New Jersey Army National Guardsman is the first U.S. service member to pass away because of the new coronavirus.

The guardsman died on Saturday, according to the Pentagon. The person had tested positive for COVID-19 and had been hospitalized since March 21.

“This is a stinging loss for our military community,” Esper says in a release, “and our condolences go out to his family, friends, civilian co-workers and the entire National Guard community. The news of this loss strengthens our resolve to work ever more closely with our interagency partners to stop the spread of COVID-19.”

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