'Please take this virus seriously': Widow of Philadelphia officer issues heartbreaking coronavirus warning

PHILADELPHIA -- The wife of a Philadelphia police officer is issuing a heartbreaking warning after her husband died from the coronavirus.

"It's the most devastating feeling imaginable not to be able to be with my husband at the end, to hold his hand, to tell him what our life together has meant," said Vita Walker.

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Wearing a mask, a heartbroken Vita said the last time she saw her husband, 59-year-old Lt. James Walker, was March 27, when she took him to Abington Hosptial.

The 32-year Philadelphia police veteran is the city's first employee to die from the coronavirus.

Lt. James Walker

"He loved his job, and he refused to let this virus stop him from doing this job," she said.

Assigned to the traffic division, Walker had previously worked in eight other police districts, as well as the Narcotics Strike Force. While he did have high blood pressure and diabetes, Vita says Walker did everything he could to protect himself from the virus.

"I know they gave him a mask, and my husband was notorious --even before this-- he always wore gloves, he had sanitizer," said Vita.

While neither the city nor the police department will confirm, WPVI-TV learned that as of April 5, 107 officers are being evaluated for COVID-19, while 45 officers have been diagnosed.

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"They're scared, they're concerned. They're nervous for themselves, their families. They don't know what they're bringing home. Whether they're infected, not infected. This is uncharted territory," said FOP President John McNesby.

Uncharted territory, that Vita says cost her husband his life. She has this warning for those Walker swore to protect.

"Please take this virus seriously, it is destroying families. It's destroying lives and it has forever changed and altered the outcome of my life. So please take this virus seriously, it is no joke, it is a killer," said Walker fighting through tears.

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