For the most part, the local press has treated Sunday's COVID-19 death of Washington State Patrol Detective Eric Gunderson as a matter concerning solely his heroism and career achievements. Gunderson, reports KING 5, caught the virus “while in service to the state of Washington,” and so this untimely passing is yet another example of his service to society. KOMO said the exact same thing.
Statement to the press by WSP Chief John R. Batiste:
Eric Gunderson was a respected trooper and public servant. His is the first line of duty death since we commemorated our first century of service to this state just a few weeks ago. How I had hoped our second century of service would be more forgiving.
There was even a police procession for the fallen officer from Portland, Oregon to Lacey, Washington:
This must mean he was vaccinated. He did everything possible to protect his life and the lives of others, right? No one knows.
But the public wants to know:
But according to the Seattle Times, the WSP's spokesperson, Chris Loftis, refused to answer this biggest of questions because the agency is now “focusing on supporting the family and honoring their privacy during their loss.” Loftis added, according to the Times, that the WSP “will share what it can, when it can regarding this intersection of a very raw moment of tragedy and a very real time of public debate and interest.”
This is wishful thinking. The vaccinated/not vaccinated issue is a hot button in the broader police world. It's reported that troopers are even "resigning over COVID vaccine mandate." And, to make matters more stark, the conservative Wall Street Journal reported that the virus is now "the leading cause of death among police, surpassing gunfire", and yet "resistance [to vaccines] persists."
Now, the Seattle Times also reports that Gunderson was a technologist, a cop of the 21st century. For example, he "traveled the country lecturing and advocating for the use of unmanned aerial vehicles to aid law enforcement." And in our state, he is noted for using drones to map the 2017 derailment of Amtrak's Cascades passenger train 501, "even as rescuers were pulling survivors from the train."
We are in the middle of "America’s deadliest pandemic." It has claimed the life of a public servant. We know that vaccines work, but millions of Americans are refusing to take them for some political reason or another. Was Gunderson among this group or not? We need to know.
In the same way Gunderson wasted no time searching for answers in the DuPont accident, in the way his drones flew over the wreckage as the rescue operation was in process—saving the living, determining the dead—we too must examine, map, and investigate the COVID death of a police officer right away. Also, dying from the virus is not anything like dying in the line of duty. And dying in the line of duty is something that happens to soldiers, not public servants.