The Alameda County Sheriff's Office confirmed over the weekend that technician Valerie Leon had become the second employee of the department to die from COVID-19 complications.
Leon, 61, succumbed to the virus at 6:30 p.m. Friday (July 24) at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in Modesto. She had worked as a professional non-sworn staff member for ACSO for more than 20 years.
"Once again, it is with a heavy heart we must announce the passing of one of our own," Sheriff Gregory Ahern said in a statement Saturday. "Valerie was just a wonderful and loving person with a bright smile. She loved her job, community, family and friends. We are truly heartbroken at her passing."
Leon was the second ACSO employee to die from COVID-19 within roughly 24 hours -- following the death of Deputy Oscar Rocha, a resident of Danville, on Thursday evening.
Remembered as a "beloved friend and co-worker," Leon joined ACSO in 1997 and worked a variety of assignments, including at the René C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland, according to Sgt. Ray Kelly. During the pandemic, Leon had been assigned to the coroner's bureau working in administration.
Leon is survived by her children Brandon Perez (wife Sarah), Frank Perez (wife Josephine) and Michael Leon, as well as 13 grandchildren. Memorial service information will be released at a later time, Kelly said. ACSO personnel saluted Leon's body draped in the USA flag over the weekend.
As the sheriff's office grieves the deaths of two of its employees, Alameda County at large continues to grapple with the spread of the virus throughout the community.
The county has surpassed 10,000 positive cases of COVID-19 (10,370 as of Friday's data) and reached 178 confirmed deaths related to the virus, according to the Alameda County Public Health Department.
Nearly 40% of those cases have occurred in Oakland -- 4,129 -- and more than 10% of the cases have been in Hayward (1,502). The next highest city counts are Fremont with 569 cases and San Leandro with 532.
Livermore has recorded the fifth-highest total among cities in Alameda County, standing at 428 as of Friday. Pleasanton has climbed to 218 cases and Dublin is at 112 cases.