Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Prison Chaplain Dies After Contracting COVID-19

A prison chaplain and five state prison inmates have died after contracting COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

The most recent state inmates to die after contracting the virus are 58-year-old Justin McKinley, 66-year-old Gustavo Coronado, 59-year-old Fernando Garcia, 67-year-old Jose Garza and 48-year-old Nicole Perez.

Walterio Rodriguez, 67, worked 11 years with the TDCJ as a chaplain before his death Thursday after contracting the virus.

"The Texas Department of Criminal Justice mourns one of our own who treasured bringing the word of God to those who need it," said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said in a statement.

"Walter made a transition in life to become a chaplain because of his love for others. We now return thoughts and prayers to his loved ones with the admiration and respect of the TDCJ family."

Rodriguez was the 18th TDCJ employee to die after contracting COVID-19.

McKinley, Coronado, Garcia, Garza and Perez brought the total of inmate deaths connected to the virus to 117, according to the TDCJ. An additional 43 deaths are still under investigation, the TDCJ said.

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On Thursday, the TDCJ reported that of the 179,688 inmates and 58,088 employees tested for COVID-19, 18,554 inmates and 3,878 staff tested positive.

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