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Gov. Tim Walz ordered flags be flown at half-staff Friday for the Itasca County deputy who died earlier this week after a long battle with COVID-19.

Deputy Sheriff Jayme Williams, known as "Rooster," passed away Monday, loved ones said in a GoFundMe page for his family. The 41-year-old became ill with COVID on Dec. 11 and five days later was in an ICU bed in Virginia, according to the fundraiser. 

He developed pneumonia and was put on a c-pap machine, and given a variety of medications to treat the illness. But an MRI, done after Williams complained of stomach pain, revealed internal bleeding and a laceration on Williams’ liver. The GoFundMe says it may have been caused by his coughing or possibly a needle.

After an unsuccessful surgery, Williams went into cardiac arrest Monday and died.

“Deputy Sheriff Williams was a dedicated public servant who was respected by his family, friends, and colleagues,” Walz's proclamation reads. “With its deepest gratitude, the State of Minnesota recognizes Deputy Sheriff Williams for his dedicated service to, and sacrifice for, his fellow Minnesotans, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family, friends, and entire community.”

All U.S. and Minnesota flags at state buildings will be flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset on Dec. 31 to honor Williams, who died "due to a medical illness obtained during line of duty service," the governor's office said.

Minnesota Rep. Spencer Igo, who serves the area, said in a Facebook post: "Thank you Deputy Williams for your years of service to the citizens of Itasca County and may you rest in peace."

And the Itasca County Sheriff's Office said in a statement (provided here by KOZY) it is "grieving the loss of Deputy Jayme Williams who passed away earlier this week due to complications associated with COVID-19." The sheriff's office described him as "a devoted husband and father, a dedicated public servant and an active community member."

The statement continues: "Deputy Williams will always be remembered for his kind and fair approach to the community he served as a law enforcement officer. We mourn his passing and send our deepest condolences to his family and partners in law enforcement during this difficult time."

The GoFundMe had raised more than $17,000 of its $50,000 goal as of Thursday afternoon. The money will support Williams’ wife and three children, ages 17, 14 and 12.

The fundraiser does not say if Williams was vaccinated against COVID-19. His Facebook page includes a post from September linking to a webpage about supposed vaccine adverse reactions, on which he commented: "Take your vaccine and shove it." He has also made posts doubting the efficacy of mask-wearing as a COVID mitigation tactic.

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