HOUSTON - 50-year-old Jerry Pacheco was a 17-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department.
His death early Monday came as a shock to Houston Fire Chief Sam Pena.
Pacheco checked into the hospital on July 25.
"The odd thing is, I just talked to his son who is also a Houston firefighter Sunday about the status of his dad and he said his dad was doing better and they were looking to see if they could move him out of ICU," Pena said. "And Monday morning we, unfortunately, got a call that he had expired."
On July 20, Fire Department Captain Leroy Lucio, a 29-year department veteran, died from COVID-19.
"Captain Lucio was in his late 50s early-60s, not old at all. He was still working on the front lines," said the chief.
Neither firefighter had underlying medical issues and were in relatively good shape.
Pena says the virus affects people in different ways and you don't have to have underlying medical issues to die from it.
"My brother-in-law lost his sister as well just a couple of weeks ago and she was by all accounts a healthy individual," Pena said.
One-hundred-thirty firefighters are currently in quarantine. Thirty-one have tested positive.
The manpower shortage has firefighters working double and triple shifts.
Every call that a firefighter or police officer responds to puts them at risk for catching COVID-19.