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Singer Joe Diffie, CBS journalist Maria Mercader die of coronavirus

John Prine was also diagnosed with COVID-19 and remains hospitalized.

Joe Diffie -- pictured here with his wife Tara in November -- died Sunday at age 61. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Joe Diffie -- pictured here with his wife Tara in November -- died Sunday at age 61. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 29 (UPI) -- Country singer Joe Diffie and CBS broadcast journalist Maria Mercader have died after battling the coronavirus.

Diffie's representative Scott Adkins confirmed his death at age 61 on Sunday.

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"Grammy-winning country music legend Joe Diffie passed away today, Sunday, March 29, from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19)," a statement said. "His family respects their privacy at this time."

The "Home" and "If the Devil Danced" singer announced he was COVID-19 positive on Friday.

CBS News also announced Sunday that Mercader, a cancer survivor and "network veteran who covered breaking news for nearly three decades" had died at age 54 from the coronavirus.

She had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since late February when she tested positive for COVID-19.

"Even more than her talents as a journalist, we will miss her indomitable spirit," Susan Zirinsky, CBS News president and senior executive producer, said in a statement on the network's website.

"Maria was part of all of our lives. Even when she was hospitalized -- and she knew something was going on at CBS, she would call with counsel, encouragement, and would say, 'You can do this.' I called Maria a 'warrior,' she was. Maria was a gift we cherished."

John Prine's Twitter account said Sunday the 73-year-old country singer was hospitalized Thursday with the virus and intubated Saturday night.

"His situation is critical," the tweet from Prine's family said.

"This is hard news for us to share. But so many of you have loved and supported John over the years, we wanted to let you know, and give you the chance to send on more of that love and support now. And know that we love you, and John loves you."

Live performances, film productions and concert tours around the world have been canceled -- and non-essential businesses, museums and schools closed -- in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has claimed the lives of more than 30,000 people around the world, including playwright Terrence McNally and stage actor Mark Blum.

Notable deaths of 2020

Richard Thornburgh
Richard "Dick" Thornburgh, former attorney general of the United States and former governor of Pennsylvania, takes a seat at the witness hearing after U.S. Chief Justice nominee Judge John Roberts testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on September 15, 2005. Thornburgh died on December 31 at age 88. Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo

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