Florida sees first 2 coronavirus deaths of state correctional officers

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A 65-year-old sergeant marked Florida’s first coronavirus death of a state correctional officer. Days later, a 40-year-old correctional officer lost his life to the disease, according to a report.

Robert "Wayne" Rogers, an employee for the state Department of Corrections for 30 years, was the first correctional officer who died from complications of the virus on Friday, according to a department announcement from August 3. His wife, Lauri Wood Rogers, also passed away, according to a Florida Correctional Officers PBA post on social media.

According to a report from the Tampa Bay Times, Rogers died one hour after his wife, who also had COVID-19.


Joseph "Joe" Foster, U.S. Army veteran, marked the second death, according to the Times.

“We called him ‘the enforcer’ because he always took care of everybody,” Cory Surles, a friend of Foster’s who served alongside him in Germany from 1997 to 1998, told the outlet. Surles reportedly confirmed that Foster died Monday night. Foster had a wife, three kids and was said to have "a heart of gold."

He lived in Gainesville, Fla., and graduated from Gainesville High School, the Times wrote, attributing his Facebook page. He was most recently assigned to Florida Women's Reception Center in Ocala, where 472 out of 800 inmates tested positive.

The Florida Department of Corrections had not issued a release regarding Foster's death by late afternoon on Wednesday.

Rogers was assigned to the Graceville Work Camp in Graceville, Fla., and according to the department announcement, more than 1,600 Florida Department of Corrections employees tested positive for COVID-19 in recent months.

Robert Rogers was assigned to the Graceville Work Camp in Graceville, Fla. (Photo via GOOGLE MAPS)

“No amount of preparedness can alleviate the feelings that come with the news of losing a colleague,” said Mark Inch, Secretary of Corrections. “Sergeant Rogers committed his life to selfless service to the state of Florida as a corrections professional and we are deeply saddened by his passing.

“We are praying for Sergeant Roger’s family, friends and fellow staff members during this very difficult time as we remember the impact he had on the lives of those around him,” Inch said.

Rogers began his career at Florida Department of Corrections in 1991, according to the announcement.

Coronavirus has ravaged America's prison system, with at least 78,526 people having tested positive for the disease as of late July, according to a report from The Marshall Project.


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