A Franklin County deputy of 17 years died of COVID-19 complications on Thursday, the fourth local first responder killed by the virus in less than six weeks, according to public announcements.
- Deputy Billy Ihrig, 52, was a former Marine.
- Two others who died were Columbus firefighters and one was a Columbus police officer.
Why it matters: COVID is the leading cause of death among law enforcement nationally since the pandemic began. Since 2020, it's killed five times as many officers as gunfire.
- That's despite officers being among the first to receive access to COVID vaccines. In Ohio, they were eligible in early March 2021.
Driving the news: Many officers aren't getting vaccinated due to distrust and misinformation, and in some states, they're fighting back against vaccination mandates.
Of note: Columbus and Franklin County first responders are not required to be vaccinated.
- The Franklin County Sheriff's Office and the local police union did not return messages for comment Tuesday.
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