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Coronavirus

2 Denver deputies with COVID-19 die in less than 2 weeks

The Denver Sheriff's Department announced the death of Deputy Daniel “Duke” Trujillo on Thursday

Denver's Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center, also known as the downtown jail, photographed on March 18, 2019. (Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun)

Two sheriff’s deputies who contracted COVID-19 have died in less than two weeks.

The Denver Sheriff Department announced the death of Deputy Daniel “Duke” Trujillo on Thursday. The former Marine was a 7-year department veteran who worked for the city’s downtown jail.

“We ask that you keep his family in your thoughts and prayers and respect their privacy. We also ask that you pray for the members of our Department as well,” the Department said in its announcement.

His death followed the death of Deputy James Herrera, which was announced May 17. Herrera worked for the department for 25 years and was assigned to the downtown jail.

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After Trujillo’s death was announced, criticism of some of his social media posts that seemed to express skepticism about coronavirus vaccinations surfaced, such as one Facebook profile photo update that said “I have an immune system.” Following Herrera’s death, he changed his profile photo to one of Herrera and a badge with a black band.

Like other workplaces, the sheriff’s department does not require its employees to be vaccinated, spokesperson Daria Serna said. It has tried to educate employees about vaccinations, including by inviting a doctor to speak to them during a town hall. Next week, the department will offer vaccination clinics for deputies in both of its jails after previously offering clinics in sites nearby, she said.

“We’re going to bring the vaccines to our facilities, and it’s up to them if they want to take the vaccinations or not,” she said.

Following Trujillo’s death, Sheriff Elias Diggins announced he was designating the deaths of both deputies as happening in the line of duty, a move that provides rights and benefits including the department paying the costs of their funerals and medical insurance for the their families. He noted that the designation of future deaths would be made by the city’s risk management department and insurance company.

One of Herrera’s sons criticized the delay in declaring his death a line of duty death in an interview this week with KUSA-TV.

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