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Second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy dies from COVID-19 complications

Healthcare workers assigned to the Navy hospital ship Mercy, which recently docked at the Port of Los Angeles, admit the first patient from Los Angeles medical facilities on March 29.
Deputy David Werksman, 51, who served in the department for 22 years, died Thursday. He is the second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy to die from coronavirus complications.
(Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

A second Riverside County sheriff’s deputy has died due to the coronavirus, officials reported Friday morning.

Deputy David Werksman, 51, who served in the department for 22 years, died Thursday, officials said. He began his career with the department in April 1998 and worked on assignments at the Robert Presley Detention Center, Jurupa Valley Station and Lake Elsinore Station. He was most recently assigned to the sheriff’s administration, according to officials.

Werksman was a “very accomplished deputy” and an FBI-certified public safety bomb technician, according to the Riverside Sheriffs’ Assn.

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Werksman is survived by his wife and three children.

He is the second member of the department to die this week due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

On Thursday morning, Terrell Young, a father of four and a 15-year veteran of the department, also died due to complications from COVID-19. Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco believes that Young may have contracted the virus from an inmate whom he had escorted to the Riverside University Health System during the week of March 16.

The inmate was also experiencing symptoms that day, Bianco said. The inmate has tested positive for the virus, although it’s unclear whether he tested positive before or after contact with Young.

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All employees and inmates who have exhibited symptoms have been quarantined and tested, Bianco said.

So far, 25 employees and 11 inmates have tested positive for the virus, some of whom did not show any symptoms.

As of Thursday, Bianco said 60 inmates are in quarantine and 51 inmate tests are pending. In addition, 16 employees are awaiting their test results. Several of the Sheriff Department’s employees have been or are currently hospitalized, Bianco said. One is in critical condition.

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Bianco said that the department is not “considering this any type of jail emergency.”

“We believe we have this contained at the moment. It should be an eye-opener for the general public. We are seeing the drastic and the viral aspects of this, and it’s not pretty,” he said.

The deaths of Young and Werksman are reminders of the risks that employees face each day as they serve the public during this pandemic, said Bill Young, Riverside Sheriffs’ Assn. president.

“As first responders, Deputy Werksman and Deputy Young served on the front lines of an invisible beast,” Youngsaid. “Yet, they both demonstrated in this crisis and every day their dedication and sacrifice. Their tragic deaths are a stark reminder of why we need the public to stay at home and to take this deadly virus seriously. We need everyone to take the public health warnings as if it’s life or death because it is. Please, help us help you and stay inside unless absolutely necessary.”

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As of Thursday afternoon, there were 493 virus-related cases and 14 fatalities in the county, records show.


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