A longtime mayor in Alabama has died of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). He was 84.
Billy Joe Driver, the mayor of Clanton, Alabama, was diagnosed with the contagious respiratory virus last month, CBS 42 reported. He died Thursday after being admitted to the hospital on June 28.
"We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of our beloved Mayor. He was looking forward to his retirement later this year," the Clanton Fire Department said in a statement on Facebook Thursday.
"At this year’s annual department dinner, Mayor Driver shared an emotional story about his time with the fire department until present and challenged the upcoming generations to continue the progress," the department's statement said. "His love for our city runs deep and he will be greatly missed by many!"
"He spent the best years of his life dedicated to the city that he loved," said Driver's daughter, Kim Driver Hayes, in a statement to CBS 42. "He loved serving the public."
Driver certainly had a long tenure in public service. After serving on the fire department, Driver joined the Clanton City Council in 1972 and was elected mayor of Clanton in 1984.
Alabama Governor Kay Ivey said in a statement to WVTM13 that the state "lost a valued public servant" with Driver's death.
"After his battle with COVID-19, Mayor Driver passed on to his eternal home," Ivey's statement said. "He will truly be missed in his home of Clanton, but also by many of us across the state. I offer my heartfelt prayers to his loved ones, friends and the city of Clanton in their tremendous time of loss."
Driver's death comes as COVID-19 cases surge in Alabama.
Nearly 15,000 cases have been reported across the state over the past two weeks, according to the state's department of public health, and 2,164 new cases were confirmed on Thursday alone, AL.com reported.
Chilton County, which contains Clanton, has had 295 cases of COVID-19, with three deaths related to the virus, according to data from the New York Times.
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