Mayor's Office Press Release
Mayor Turner Issues Statement on the Deaths of Two City of Houston Employees Due to COVID-19
November 27, 2020 -- Mayor Sylvester Turner tonight sends his condolences to the families of two City of Houston employees who died this week as a result of COVID-19.
Houston Public Works (HPW) employee Joel Cirilo passed away on Wednesday, Nov. 25, after bravely fighting COVID-19 in the hospital for the past week. Cirilo began his career in the Code Enforcement Division on May 12, 2014. His wife is also an HPW employee. In a statement tonight, Veronica Cirilo said, "Joel will be missed so much. He loved his job and our co-workers. He fought so courageously, but this virus has no mercy. Praying that 2021 brings no more heartache due to COVID-19. I am thankful for so many blessings Joel and I shared through the years."
Friday evening, the Houston Police Department (HPD) announced Senior Officer Ernest Leal Jr.'s line of duty death due to COVID-19. Officer Leal joined HPD in 1984 and served with honor and compassion.
"As a city, we collectively mourn and feel the grief and heartache of losing two employees in the same week as a result of COVID-19. I ask all Houstonians to pray for the families of Officer Ernest Leal and Joel Cirilo. In their own way, they contributed to our city and made life better for all of us. I am grateful for their dedication and service to the City of Houston," said Mayor Turner. "COVID-19 does not discriminate. It is an insidious virus that has claimed far too many lives in Houston and around the nation. Each of us must do our part to stop the virus from spreading and destroying families."
Since the beginning of the pandemic, COVID-19 has claimed the lives of nine municipal employees, three Houston firefighters, and one Houston police officer.
The Mayor reminds everyone to continue to mask up, practice social distancing, wash their hands frequently, and get tested.