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First airman, a Texas Air Guardsman, dies of COVID-19

An airman from the Texas Air National Guard has died of COVID-19, the Texas Military Department confirmed Thursday.

The guardsman, who was not identified to protect the family’s privacy, is the first uniformed airman to have died as a result of the coronavirus.

“Anytime we lose a Texas Guardsman, it is a tragedy,” the Texas Military Department said in a statement. “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the service member’s family.”

The organization declined to release any identifying information about the airman without a Freedom of Information Act request, an administrative process that can take an indeterminate amount of time to fulfill.

The Guardsman is the first military COVID-19 death to be unnamed. The Navy, Army Reserve and various state Guard organizations have all identified their members and provided information about their service.

Requiring a FOIA request for releasable service information is the Texas National Guard’s policy, spokeswoman Lt. Col. Rita Holton told Air Force Times.

Holton could not estimate how long a FOIA request would take to return. Although FOIA law requires a response within 20 business days, some organizations choose to response within a day, while others put the requests at the end of a backlog that could last years, in some cases.

Nine uniformed service members in all have now died from COVID-19, according to the Defense Department’s official coronavirus tally. There have also been 58,968 service members overall who have contracted coronavirus, 755 of whom were hospitalized and just over 39,000 who have recovered.

The Air Force said in its most recent statistics update that as of Monday, there had been 9,313 Air Force Department uniformed personnel who have been diagnosed with coronavirus, and six who were hospitalized.

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