New Jersey National Guard soldier dies of COVID-19

( New Jersey National Guard )

A soldier with the New Jersey Army National Guard is the first U.S. miltary service member to die from a coronavirus-related illness, according to authorities.

Capt. Douglas Linn Hickok died on Saturday at a hospital in Pennsylvania, where he lived, according to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he was "heartbroken" by the news. The physician's assistant was originally from Jackson in Ocean County, New Jersey.

"Our thoughts are with his wife, children, and their family," Murphy said.

He is the first member of the military—active duty, reserve, or National Guard—to die in connection with the coronavirus pandemic, according to the Pentagon.

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

Hickok's death is not part of New Jersey's official coronavirus count because he was a Pennsylvania resident and died in a hospital there, Murphy said. He had been hospitalized since March 21, the Pentagon said.

Officials didn't release details of how Hickok may have contracted the virus, such as if it was known to be related to his work as a physician's assistant or with the National Guard or something else.

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