Army Reservist Is 7th Service Member to Die of COVID-19



A senior maintenance supervisor with the 301st Field Hospital in Saint Petersburg, Florida, has been identified as the seventh service member to die of COVID-19.

Sgt. 1st Class Clifford Gooding, 58, of Gulfport, Florida, died Aug. 28 at Largo Medical Center after battling the illness for nine weeks. He was the second member of the Army Reserve to succumb to COVID-19 at that hospital after a long fight: Army Reserve Master Sgt. Brian Tolliver, 46, was diagnosed with the coronavirus July 10 and died Aug. 17, not far from where Gooding was being treated.

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Gooding served in the military for more than 27 years, including 24 in the Reserve with a lengthy assignment to the 443rd Transportation Company, based in Elkhorn, Nebraska. He was remembered on Facebook by members of his former unit as an outstanding leader and storyteller who loved to fish and had a great sense of humor.

“We lost a very good noncommissioned officer. … He was full of life and [had an] amazing personality. You had my back and I had yours,” wrote James Johnson.

Gooding’s awards included a Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the Army Achievement medal with four oak leaf clusters, and six Army Good Conduct Medals.

Nearly 56,000 people associated with the Defense Department have tested positive for the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in late 2019, including 38,424 service members, 8,509 civilian employees, 5,133 dependents and 3,639 contractors.

Eighty-four people have died: seven service members, 50 civilians, seven dependents and 20 contractors.

The Army has had the highest number of infections, with 13,701 as of Sept. 2, followed by the Navy, at 8,914. The Air Force has had 5,966; the Marine Corps, 4,796; and the National Guard Bureau, 4,720.

The Coast Guard does not routinely publish its COVID-19 diagnoses data and has not responded to a request made by Military.com in August for the information.

Four of the seven service members who have died from COVID-19 have been in the Army Reserve — Gooding; Tolliver; Spc. Curtis Lamar Fort, 61; and Sgt. Simon Zamudio, 34.

The other service members who have died include an unidentified member of the California National Guard, who passed away Aug. 20; Army National Guard Capt. Douglas Hickok, who died March 28; and Navy Chief Aviation Ordnanceman Charles Thacker, 41, who died April 13.

The services don’t routinely divulge whether the reservists and Guardsmen were activated when they contracted the illness. Thacker was among the nearly 1,200 sailors diagnosed with COVID-19 on the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

Hickok, a physician assistant who served in the New Jersey Army National Guard, had been preparing for his unit to be activated for pandemic response but had not yet conducted his March training before falling ill.

Gooding leaves behind a wife, Rosana, and several children.

While the number of new cases of COVID-19 has declined since it peaked in late July, they continue to remain significantly higher than when much of the country was shuttered in April.

On April 10, the seven-day average for new cases was 31,709. After a decline to roughly 20,000 cases a day in late May, the number rose to a seven-day average of 66,781 on July 25.

Currently, the U.S. is experiencing more than 42,000 new cases a day, according to The New York Times.

Since the pandemic began, more than 6.1 million people in the U.S. have tested positive for the illness and 185,782 have died, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Worldwide, 26 million people have tested positive and 863,933 have died, although World Health Organization officials have said that the true level of transmission may be underestimated because a substantial number of people may be asymptomatic or have not gotten tested for the virus.

— Patricia Kime can be reached at Patricia.Kime@Monster.com. Follow her on Twitter @patriciakime.

Related: Back From the Brink: Four Veterans Who Beat COVID-19 Tell Their Stories

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