COVID-19 has become the number one cause of death among police.By Bryant Reed

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Two Pittsburgh Police officers have now died from COVID-19 complications over the past month.

Friday morning, flags were raised to half-staff to honor Sgt. Richard Howe and a memorial is set up outside of the Zone 6 police station. It’s where Sgt. Howe was stationed for so many years.

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Howe was a 24-year veteran and worked as a Motorcycle Unit supervisor with the Special Deployment Division.

(Photo Credit: Pittsburgh Police)

His wife, Cali, posted to Facebook saying he was battling COVID most of the month of October. Then Thursday night, she posted a final update saying she had lost her soulmate.

“Over the country, there’s about 700 deaths due to COVID for law enforcement officers,” said Vincent DiCenzo Jr., president of the Allegheny County Fraternal Order of Police. “Locally in the last month, I know of another Pittsburgh officer, COVID related, plus the trooper. I think for the state, we’re at 13 officers who have died from COVID.”

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COVID-19 has become the number one cause of death among police. According to the Officer Down Memorial page, there have been 240 officer deaths from COVID just this year.

Although Howe is the second Pittsburgh Police officer to die of COVID complications over the past month, don’t expect a vaccine mandate.

“I think it’s every officer’s right to make that decision whether they want to be vaccinated or not,” said DiCenzo. “We didn’t get any bonuses for going into the houses for the last two years, year and a half since this started, so now you want to take somebody’s job?”

Howe was surrounded by his loved ones at St. Clair Hospital when he passed away. He’s survived by his wife, son and two daughters.

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Officials say funeral arrangements haven’t been made yet but will be announced at a later date.