Over 100 officers have died in US due to COVID-19 this year -- more than any other line-of-duty death
Wearing a badge always comes with risks, but in 2020, the deadliest enemy for law enforcement might be one they can't see: COVID-19.
According to the Officer Down Memorial Page, a website that tracks line-of-duty deaths, coronavirus is being blamed for the deaths of 101 law enforcement officers, including eight in Florida.
The nationwide total is more than all other line-of-duty deaths combined and more than triple the number of gunfire deaths, which is the next-highest cause of death at 32 officers lost.
"Unbelievable. At first you didn't think it was going to be like that," said Nick Marolda, the president of the West Central Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Marolda said the job makes catching COVID-19 almost unavoidable at times.
"You've got to get close to people if you've got to arrest them," he pointed out. "You've got to make contact. So you can mask up, you can have gloves on, but if it's a life-and-death situation, it's business as usual for law enforcement."
So far in the Tampa Bay area, only the Lakeland Police Department attributes a line-of-duty death to COVID-19.
Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri came down with the virus last month and knows first-hand how dangerous it can be.
"For me, especially the first few days of it, one of the scariest things was that you don't know how you are going to react to it," the sheriff told FOX 13 at the time. "It's just a very scary and miserable disease. I hope that everybody out there follows all the right guidelines and the best practices and they don't get it."
Marolda worries that, until there's a medical breakthrough, the situation isn't going to get better any time soon.
"This thing seems to have no conscience when it's coming after somebody," he said. "It's going to get worse before it gets better."