A 21-year veteran of the Chicago Police Department has died from complications of COVID-19, Interim Police Supt. Charlie Beck told officers in an email Thursday morning. Officer Mario DiFranco, 50, contracted the virus last week and was hospitalized over the weekend, according to Beck’s email.
“Despite some previous health challenges, the severity of the COVID-19 virus became overbearing. He left us last night,” Beck wrote.
DiFranco, a father of two, was assigned to an undercover narcotics team, said Anthony Guglielmi, CPD’s chief spokesperson. The officer received more than 100 awards during his career. His brother is also a narcotics cop.
“His first love was his family, his second was being a Chicago cop and lastly his [Italian] heritage and collection of Italian sports cars,” Guglielmi tweeted. “He was one hell of a policeman.”
The department “will explore whether this COVID-19 related death meets the standards for a line of duty death classification,” Guglielmi said. “The virus impacts first responders differently as they cannot shelter in place and are on the front lines.”
Beck encouraged officers to isolate and take care of themselves if they feel symptoms. He also urged officers to take advantage of the department’s chaplain’s ministry, peer support, and employee assistance program.
“My promise to all of you is that you will not go through this alone,” Beck wrote.
As of Thursday afternoon, 74 Chicago police officers and two civilian employees of the department have tested positive for COVID-19, according to CPD.