Two Texas Correctional Officers Die, Test Positive for COVID-19, TDCJ Says

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Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Two correctional officers with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

Maria Mendez, who worked at the Wynne Unit in Huntsville, died Saturday morning and Jesse Bolton of the Eastham Unit in unincorporated Houston County died Friday afternoon, according to the TDCJ.

The 59-year-old Mendez, who tested positive for COVID-19, was hospitalized April 12 and was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Houston, where she was placed on a ventilator, on April 15. She worked for the agency for nearly 11 years.

Bolton, 62, started to experience stroke-like symptoms Wednesday and was taken to Huntsville Memorial Hospital, where he tested negative for the coronavirus, the TDCJ said. He was then transferred to Conroe Regional Hospital and placed on life support.

A second COVID-19 test on Bolton came back positive.

"Even in these unprecedented times there are moments that are especially jarring," TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier said. "Losing any employee is difficult, but learning of two deaths in a single day is unthinkable. The thoughts and prayers of the entire agency are with all the family and friends of both Officers Menendez and Bolton."

Mendez and Bolton are the sixth and seventh TDCJ employees to have the coronavirus listed as their preliminary cause of death, the agency said. Twenty-seven inmates have also died of COVID-19.

In total 582 employees and 1,427 inmates have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

Tracking COVID-19 Cases in North Texas Counties

NBC 5 is tracking the number of COVID-19 related cases, recoveries and deaths in North Texas counties. Choose a county and click on a city or town to see how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting your area.

Cases are cumulative by day and are subject to change, dependent on each county health department's reporting schedule and methodology. Data may be reported county-wide, by city or town, or not at all. Cases, recoveries and death counts in 'unspecified' categories are used as placeholders and reassigned by their respective counties at a later date.

Data: County Health Departments, NBC 5 Staff
Nina Lin/NBC

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