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Three Members Of Kansas City Fire Department Have Now Succumbed To COVID-19

Captain Robert "Bobby" Rocha died Saturday morning from COVID-19, the second Kansas City Fire Department to do so.
Kansas City Fire Department
Captain Robert "Bobby" Rocha died Saturday morning from COVID-19, the second Kansas City Fire Department to do so.

Robert “Bobby” Rocha died Saturday morning after contracting COVID-19 in the line of duty, according to the Kansas City Fire Department. He was 60 years old.

“I am sad to report that KCFD Fire Captain Robert “Bobby” Rocha lost his battle with COVID-19 early this morning,” Fire Chief Donna Lake said in a statement released Saturday. “His passing represents a personal loss to all of us who knew him.”

Rocha, a 29-year veteran of the department, had been in quarantine since early November and was hospitalized at the time of his death, KCFD spokesman Jason Spreitzer told KCUR.

“We can’t pinpoint when and where, but we are very confident that he contracted COVID while performing his EMS and firefighter duties,” Spreitzer said. “Our crews are constantly exposed to members of the community who are COVID-positive. At this time it’s undetermined which patient may have caused this.”

Since the most recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the region, EMTs and firefighters have been responding to as many as 10 pandemic-related calls a day, putting them at risk of exposure to the virus, Spreitzer said.

Seventy-three members of the Kansas City Fire Department are currently infected with the virus. In all, 176 have tested positive since the pandemic began, Spreitzer said.

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas offered his sympathies, tweeting, “We honor his sacrifice and courage for the people of Kansas City and pray for his family, friends, our Fire Department, and all our frontline workers facing this terrible disease."

Rocha is the second Kansas City firefighter to die of COVID-19. EMT Billy Birmingham, 69, died on April 13, a month after area governments began imposing stay-at-home orders and other restrictions to try to curb the spread of the virus.

On Sunday morning, Firefighters Local 42 tweeted news of the loss of yet another fire department employee from COVID-19, communications specialist Scott Davidson. The city offered its condolences in a tweet.

Copyright 2021 KCUR 89.3. To see more, visit KCUR 89.3.

Laura Ziegler began her career at KCUR as a reporter more than 20 years ago. She became the news director in the mid 1980's and in 1988, went to National Public Radio in Washington, D.C. as a producer for Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.