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A CBS News employee has died after being infected with the novel coronavirus, the network announced Sunday morning.
The employee, Maria Mercader, was a journalist at CBS News who had a hand in much of the network’s coverage of foreign and domestic breaking news for three decades and helped shape talent strategy for the news division.
According to the network, Mercader “had been on medical leave for an unrelated matter since the last week in February.” She fought cancer and related illnesses for over 20 years.
Mercader was 54 and lived in Manhattan prior to her passing.
CBS News president Susan Zirinsky said of Mercader in a memo: “If you knew Maria, you loved her. She inspired everyone with the power of her spirit in the face of a serious illness many would have succumbed to long ago. She endured harsh treatments and long hospitalizations, each time returning to the office triumphant.”
In her role as director of talent strategy, Mercader helped spearhead the CBS News workplace diversity efforts. She was active in coordinating the CBS News participation in the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and the National Association of Black Journalists.
During her career, Mercader won a Business Emmy in 2004 for her work on a CBS Sunday Morning report on computer spam.
She got her start at CBS in the CBS Page Program. Mercader began her career at CBS Newspath, where she learned the ropes producing news packages for CBS affiliate distribution.
Dan Rather paid tribute to Mercader on Twitter, calling the news of her passing a “hard hit to the heart.” “Millions of Americans learned of the world through her efforts. Now our world is less with her loss. RIP,” he wrote. Meanwhile, CBS News correspondent David Begnaud also honored Mercader writing, “We adored her.”
She beat cancer many times…was devoutly Catholic, courageous, loyal & a CBS News journalist for 30+ yrs.
Recently she underwent surgery to again remove cancer & survived.
She died after #COVID19 infected her.
She adored her family.
Loved her job.
We adored her. pic.twitter.com/Ft32K24kKO
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) March 29, 2020
Mercader is survived by her father, Manuel, and brother, Manuel.
Employees at ABC News, CBS News, CNN, The New York Times, Vox Media and Conde Nast have also tested positive for the virus.
Read Zirinsky’s full memo to staff, below.
It is with profound sadness, that I share with you that we’ve lost a dear member of our CBS News family. Maria Mercader, who embodied all of a journalist’s vital traits, foremost the fearlessness she showed each time over the past 20 years when cancer tried to take her from us too soon, has died from the covid-19 virus.
If you knew Maria, you loved her. She inspired everyone with the power of her spirit in the face of a serious illness many would have succumbed to long ago. She endured harsh treatments and long hospitalizations, each time returning to the office triumphant. Maria was our “Fearless Girl” long before that statue appeared on Wall Street.
Maria was on medical leave for an unrelated matter since late February. She knew and loved so many within CBS News and we know you will be holding her and her family in your hearts. I will forward you information on how you can pay your respects as soon as we have it.
Maria Mercader, our beloved CBS News colleague, died from COVID-19 on Sunday at 54.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 29, 2020
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