A Florida corrections officer and his wife died from COVID-19 complications at a hospital within an hour of each other, according to a report.
Wayne Rogers, a 30-year veteran at Jackson Correctional Institution in Malone, is the first state prison officer to die of the coronavirus, which had infected 8,551 inmates and killed 53 in custody throughout Florida’s prison system as of late Monday, the Tampa Bay Times reports.
More than 1,700 staffers have also been diagnosed, but the death of Rogers, 65, marks the first known COVID-19 fatality among state prison officers, the newspaper reports.
Florida Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch and Deputy Secretary Ricky Dixon have also tested positive for COVID-19, the Tampa Bay Times reported last week. They were diagnosed after visiting Columbia Correctional Institution in north Florida and attending a Florida Sheriff’s Association conference on July 27.
Rogers, 65, and his wife, Lauri, 61, contracted the virus in early July and were later sent home to quarantine following a July 12 emergency room visit. Their conditions proceeded to deteriorate over the next two weeks, daughter Tiffany Davis said.
The couple then passed away within an hour of each on Thursday at a hospital in Dothan, Alabama, not far from where they lived, the newspaper reports.
Rogers would “always light up when he talked about work,” which was often, Davis said.
“He was proud of being a sergeant,” she told the newspaper, adding that both of her parents were “country, down-to-Earth, simple people.”
“My mom had a heart of gold and was always laughing and smiling,” Davis said. “My dad would do anything for anyone and was the hardest worker.”
A celebration of life for Lauri and Wayne Rogers was scheduled for early Tuesday at Sunset Funeral Home Chapel in Midland City, Alabama, according to their joint obituary.
“He was employed with Jackson Correctional Institution for over 25 years,” the obit said of Wayne Rogers. “He was a hard-working man and would do anything for anyone in need.”
The couple, who are survived by three children, also loved riding motorcycles together, according to the obit.