Two TDCJ correctional officers die of COVID-19

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice confirmed two correctional officers died of COVID-19, increasing the number of TDCJ employee COVID-19 deaths to seven.

The TDCJ reports correctional officers Maria Mendez, 59, and Jesse Bolton, 62, died of COVID-19 within 24 hours. 

Mendez worked at the Wynne Unit and was hospitalized after feeling short of breath on April 12 with a cough and slight fever. Three days later she was transferred to Methodist Hospital in Houston where she was placed on a ventilator in Intensive Care. The 59-year-old tested positive for COVID-19 in April. She was pronounced dead on May 9.

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Mendez served with the TDCJ for nearly 11 years.

Bolton began experiencing stroke-like symptoms on May 6 and was transported to Huntsville Memorial Hospital. He tested negative for COVID-19 at Huntsville Memorial Hospital. 

Bolton was transferred to Conroe Regional Hospital where he was placed on life support. A second COVID-19 test was administered that yielded a positive result. He was pronounced dead on May 8.

The TDCJ reports Officer Bolton's death is under investigation. He worked at the Eastham Unit.

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“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 Mendez and Bolton," said TDCJ Executive Director Bryan Collier.

According to the TDCJ, 582 employees, staff or contractors have tested positive for COVID-19. The TDCJ confirmed 1427 offenders who tested positive for COVID-19.